Startups & Schrodinger’s Cat
Winding Down EventSorbet
I write this on a flight to New Zealand, ironically for a wedding of a good friend — the very type of event that started the seed of the idea for EventSorbet. As I open up my iPad notepad, I read this entry from last year in December of 2013:
“In 1935, the physicist Erwin Schrodinger posited the following scenario: a live cat is placed inside a box containing a device that has a 50–50 chance of releasing poison. There is no way to see inside the box, and no way for an observer to know what is happening inside.
So Schrodinger asked: is the cat dead or alive?
Through a series of mathematical calculations, the physicist proved that the cat is not one or the other — it is both dead and alive. This is the mind-bending situation in which Generation Flux leaders find themselves.
The either-or framing drilled into us from an early age is a useless oversimplification. This insight may be the most important one for the age of Flux: there exists no single model that leads to success. Tolerating, accepting, and yes, reveling in paradox is the approach demanded by our chaotic economy.”
I’m sure Schrodinger didn’t have today in mind when constructing this scenario but so much of this uncertainty and anguish harmonizes with my startup experience — reveling in paradox is required for all founders.
Fuck ego. It is with much relief that we are winding down EventSorbet because quite simply, the opportunity cost has exceeded the pace of probable gains. Recent focus on SMB depth from major search engines has eroded our value proposition where it will be challenging at best to deliver an experience at least 10x better than where the market will be in the next year.
Americans seem averse to death and failure; however, these are the very challenges that accelerate personal growth, compassion, and room for new opportunities.
IMHO, it takes a great deal of courage and idealism to charge for change, and in the height of solving a slew of difficult problems, our team did test ourselves to learn more than what any other experience could offer.
My hope is that everyone on the team became a bit more defined by EventSorbet both personally and professionally. I am immensely thankful for the support from the idealism of others that you can, in fact, change the world.
Here were 5 of my most important takeaways from building a startup to operational profitability:
1 don’t let planning become a distraction from truth-finding
2 don’t let technical details intimidate you, be aggressive in learning
3 you don’t have product-market fit until referrals far exceed attrition
4 don’t tackle the whole problem at once, this will feel seemingly impossible
5 trust the passion in others to move mountains
I hope I have not disappointed you too much. I do intend on charging ahead and taking names. That’s what young people do.