If Children Were Startups

If children were startups, and you wanted to start one, the first thing you’d need to do is find a cofounder. It is difficult to start one alone:

Generic, heteronormative couple.

After you’ve settled on a cofounder and hashed out a plan together, the next step is to start working on the minimum viable product:

Generic, heteronormative sex

Surprisingly, you finish this phase of the work quickly. The simple part of the work is done, but the journey has just begun.

Within three days, you get seed funding:

Generic, heteronormative seeding

Wow! I bet you didn’t think it would happen so quickly.

Your VC’s have given you nine months to launch a product. The work is slow. It feels like nothing is happening for days on end. The woman is doing most of the work and the man is left wondering what he can even do to contribute. The VC’s talk about axing the man but it’s agreed upon that he can make a solid long-term contribution to the product.

You research everything and anything to make a successful product. You play Mozart around the womb in the hope of creating a smarter baby. You eat healthy and avoid alcohol. One cofounder feels sick constantly. Nine tedious months go by, when suddenly, BOOM!

Generic, androgynous baby

Your product is ready for launch. It garners a huge amount of interest as it hits the market, and you decide to hold a post-launch series-A investment round:

Generic heteronormative babyshower

The series-A investments get you through the next few months. The excitement and energy is high. Everything is great. It’s the 1990’s and nothing could go wrong.

Except the baby is always crying, and waking you up in the middle of the night, and six months into it you’re sleepless and exhausted. And then comes the teething, and then comes the crawling, and then comes the climbing.

And then comes the walking, and then comes the talking. ‘The market will love all these new features’ you think to yourself.

Your product is three, and you marvel at all it wonders at in the world. You ponder why so few adults retain this wonder and ability to take joy from the most simple facets of life, from a ball to a bug. And then the product falls, scrapes its knee, cries ferociously, and you remember that pleasures that come easily, go easily too.

Your co-founder and you decide to skip installing pre-school in your product as you see it as an unnecessary expenditure. It’s been five years since launch, and society as a whole is very impressed in how your product has developed. Your community decides to run a series-B investment round, investing in a thirteen-year education for your product, along with providing a few dozen teachers and coaches over this time to act as product mentors.

You’re excited and conflicted. There are so many prospects for your product ahead, but you’re also taken aback by how quickly it has grown. You reflect briefly on how quickly time has passed, and send your product off with some encouraging words to its first day of its thirteen-year research and development initiative.

Six more years go by. Your product is reading, writing, painting and creating. At this point, you see so much in your product, and surprisingly, others see different things. Different potentials, different possibilities, and these are also good. You push your product to expand into these other areas where it might be a good fit. It’s been eleven years since launch and the progress is beautiful.

Another six years go by, and the product-mentors have begun to advise that your product begin looking at additional four-year R&D programs. You visit the best ones, figure out which ones would be best to attend, and pay to be evaluated by each program for eligibility in further R&D. In great anticipation months go by, and the series-A investors are all remarking on how big the product is now and asking where it will go next. Thankfully, they have given your startup autonomy in that decision, and their early investment will have little influence.

Finally you get a response from an R&D facility that sees huge potential in your product. They offer an enormously discounted rate in the hope that your product’s benefit to society from this education outweighs the costs: meet your series-C investors.

Holding back tears, you ship your product off for four more years of development. Its growth is incredible. You and your cofounder are proud of the job you did and are confident your product will do well in the markets after all the development.

Four years fly by. You almost can’t believe how far your product has come, and can hardly recognize the product from four years ago. The process has been incredible and hellish; for both your cofounder and you, but ultimately worth it.

The startup is ready to go public, and your excitement is bristling. Twenty-two years of solid work have led to this. And so you ship the product off into the world, proud of what you’ve done, and with as much love as you could have for a child.