Hi, awesome article! Sounds like you had a great learning experience, and well worth it — right?
Some contrary thoughts— no offense:
“Making something customers actually want will fix itself if you have good people.”
— That sounds backwards to me. “Hey guys, let’s start a company.” “Doing what?” “I don’t know, but we’re good people!” “Oh.”
IMO, before thinking about starting a company, one should burn with the fever of a powerful idea. That will attract team-members — at least, that’s my experience. I’ve attracted top professional talent to donate their time, as team-members and advisers. They would not do that if the idea was not powerful. The fact that you jumped from idea to idea shows that you were never burning with the fever of a powerful idea — you just wanted to start a company.
“holy triangle of startup: hipster, hacker, hustler (aka engineer, designer, marketeer)”
— That’s awesome! But might be clearer to order them the same (I’m assuming “hacker” = “engineer”).
“Hipster” = “designer”? i suggest that’s not the best way to think of design. By “hipster” I think you mean someone “designy” or “artsy”. Being artsy is not the first goal of product design. The first design goal is: giving users a frictionless user experience. That takes empathy and intuition about human behavior — not artsiness. Not sure what “H” word fits. Healer? Helper? Hippie? Don’t expect your engineers to do it — engineers do not do user-experience, and sometimes they don’t even like the users. Many a stone-age website had horrendous user-experience because the programmers did the front-end design.
Great to hear you’re moving forward with your interviews! I bet your great learning experience trying, and failing, to start your own company has made you a stronger, more attractive candidate. They know you understand much more about starting a company than someone who never tried, and they value that. That’s not failure at all!