Mario Kart is Like Running a Startup

“Are you kidding me?

Who threw that red shell?”

For 10 minutes every day at EEVO we play a grueling round of Mario Kart. Of the 100+ hours a week we spend together, the five races that take place are our favorite escape from everything else, and it never gets old. Everyone has their character, we all use the Mach Bike, and we let out all of our built-up energy. For those few minutes, there are no friends or colleagues, just a full-out brawl.

Mario Kart totally describes what it feels like to run a startup.

Things that happen in both Mario Kart and a startup:

  1. Hit by a random green shell: The unexpected, unpredicted thing always hits you when you least expect it, but you can shake it off and keep going without being too much worse off. Example: A file encoded hundreds of times in a row for no clear reason that ends up costing you $200.
  2. Getting a bullet: When you are struggling along, but finally catch a break and are back in the running. Example: Signing a big client deal that validates why you never stopped working.
  3. Teased by a red box: You finally think you’re going to get something to help you get ahead of the competition, but it’s just a red box, which doesn’t help you get closer to first place or protect your rear at all. Example: The new contact who promises to connect you to potential investors and then doesn’t even respond to your emails.
  4. Slammed by the inevitable red shell: You can see it coming for miles, but unless you’ve prepared for it and saved something to protect you, then you are getting hit. Example: Taxes.
  5. Struck by your own green shell: When something completely backfires and you end up worse off than before. Example: Sending that frustrated email reply in the heat of the moment — and instantly regretting it.
  6. Running into a banana: It was just sitting in plain sight, and yet you still hit it. Example: The task that’s been on your to-do list forever and now it’s too late.
  7. Lighting hits everyone: The whole field is hurt and gets smaller. Example: An economic downturn. Luckily, I can say that EEVO hasn’t experienced this yet, but I can certainly imagine the feeling. “UGH” — everyone at once.

Whether playing Mario Kart or running a startup, always expect the unexpected, and remember that sometimes the game is going to screw you over no matter how well you race. That doesn’t mean you should stop playing!