Startups are F$#%^& Tricky

uBeam received some not so positive press in the past couple days.

I was walking to my neighborhood coffee shop in San Francisco on Thursday, and coincidentally saw Mark Suster walking in the opposite direction.

Mark led a $10M round for uBeam. I thought about what it must be like for him in the middle of all the negative press. A few thoughts that ran through my mind were:

1. Oh cool, that’s Mark Suster (I follow his blog).
2. He led uBeam’s $10M round.
3. I bet he’s thinking about all this press uBeam has been getting.
4. I doubt his day has gone as planned. He must have been super busy putting out many fires. Sucks.

I continued walking…

In 2011, Meredith Perry went on stage at the D9 conference and demonstrated the possibility of charging your phone wirelessly using ultrasound waves.

She was building uBeam. A product that essentially charged devices wirelessly.

Imagine not having to carry a bunch of charging cables ever again?

Her demo certainly got my attention as well as the attention of other investors.

uBeam went on to raise $750k in seed funding. The company has since raised several million dollars in additional funding from some of the most prolific technology investors.

In August 2013, a buddy of mine was sitting at a bar in San Francisco. He was using an external battery to charge his iPhone. A stranger walked up and asked if he could use his external battery and offered to buy him a drink. The guy sitting at the side offered to buy them both a drink if he could also use the external battery. That night Doblet was born. Co-founded by Doktor and Jeff.

Doblet has built a network of batteries across San Francisco so users always have access to a charge when they need it the most.

Why am I telling you about Doblet?

Because to me, what Jeff and Doktor have built seems similar to uBeam. Even though their idea doesn’t sound as sexy as uBeam, both startups have the same basic idea. Both want to make charging more frictionless.

Doblet doesn’t seem as sexy as uBeam, because Doblet has focused on building a network of external batteries instead of building new technology that would allow you to charge your devices wirelessly.

Doblet is betting on the network while uBeam is betting on the technology.

From an investor’s standpoint, it’s interesting to me because I want to see how this space evolves.

At some point, if/when uBeam succeeds in building the wireless charging technology they are aiming to build, they will need to start building a network.

Is betting on the network more important or betting on the technology?

uBeam has taken several blows by the press recently. That’s not why I’m writing this.

I’m writing this post because it’s important to remember some fundamental truths in the world of startups. I wrote a rhyme to sum it up.

Startups are tricky and pretty hard to get right.
Constant highs and lows in the middle of the night.
Don’t think there’s a single path, because often that’s not the case.
Products aren’t built overnight, so don’t listen to the hate.
As a founder, you need the chutzpah for the dreams and goals you want to pursue. Eat, sleep, exercise and iterate. Remember, execution is key in spite of what the experts might throw at you.

I hope this encourages founders who are building their dreams.

At the end of the day, we’re all trying to make this world more frictionless.

As long as you stay true to your vision, work hard on your product and build long lasting relationships, I’m sure things will work out.

As some smart person said:

“Everything works out in the end. If it hasn’t worked out yet, then it’s not the end.”

If you like this post, hit the like button.

If you are building something interesting and are in the early stages, you should reach out to me. I’m looking to fund tenacious founders with great product vision.

craig [at] seedround.vc