Startups: Your entrance pass to Disneyland

If you run a startup, you often get the question “Why are you doing this?”. What’s your motivation behind taking risks, raising capital, launching products, hiring people and making or losing money? My usual answer is passion, fun and opportunity. But last week a journalist asked me that question again and I’ve tried to give a real in-depth answer to that. I said, I think a startup is like an entrance pass to Disneyland. If you want to enter Disneyland, you need to invest some money and time, but if you cross the borders, you are entering a new world of opportunities, imagination and entertainment. It can be a very short trip, but it probably won’t be boring.

As soon as you join or start a company, you learn so much in such a short amount of time, that it can literally blow you away. You work with international teams, you raise money from investors, you build and launch products, you start earning money with it, you learn how to build up a culture, you learn how to fail and succeed. It can be brutal, but also a hell lot of fun. Not everyone is made for it. But if you pass the stage of startups, you’ve achieved something amazing.

Founding a startup is by far not the easiest, but one of the fastest ways to get behind the scenes of Disneyland. When you take Elon Musk, co-founder of Paypal — a internet payment company — who is now working on electric cars with Tesla and space exploration with SpaceX, you get the idea that everyones first successful company is this kind of entrance pass to a world of crazy adventures. In an interview with Jon Stewart he said, “When I was in college, there were 3 areas that would most affect the future of humanity. Those were the internet, sustainable energy and space exploration — in particular making life multi-planetary.” Jon Stewart answered ironically “I tell you something, we all thought that! But none of us could do anything about that, we just got high and played Dungeons and Dragons.”.

That’s where startups come in place.

If you really want to change the world by inventing something that requires a huge amount of capital or a great reputation, running a startup can be the easiest way to achieve the next level. I’ve started Wunderlist 2 years ago because I wanted to learn. Learn how to build up an inspiring working culture, learn how to create a highly-profitable business and most of all, I wanted to find a great team of people I could start new adventures with. What motivates me to do the hard work each day is that I believe with that company I can have a positive impact on how people work and collaborate in their daily lives.

I just turned 26 and I feel like I’ve not only found my entrance pass to Disneyland, I’ve also found a fantastic adventure to work on for the next couple years. Now it’s about succeeding and hopefully I can build up the reputation and capital to work on new adventures soon. That’s why I’m doing startups.


Originally published at christianreber.com in August 2012.