How Not to Die

March 2018

Written by Lee Lin, Co-founder & Partner at Lair East Labs

Has it only been two weeks since the final presentations? For some of us, it feels like an eternity ago. And yet, for all of you, the most exciting part of the journey lies ahead. However, I want to put a more sobering spin on things right now. The hardest part is yet to come.

We have learned over the years, and from my own experiences, that the first month or two immediately after graduating from an accelerator can be among the most stressful and pivotal moments for early startups.

The First Piece of Advice: KEEP CALM! There is nothing magical about this moment in time. Successful startups take years to build. Despite our focus on getting as much done as possible during your time with us, the truth you are the masters of your company. You set your own timelines as appropriate. Stay positive and remember the fundamental advantages of a startup is the ability to act quickly and take big risks.

Second Piece of Advice: Stay in touch (with each other and us)! There is convincing evidence that founders who stay engaged with their community have positive benefits on their morale. And as you all know by now, startups run on morale and grind to a halt without it.

Third piece of Advice: Stay in touch (with yourself and your team)! This might be the most important advice. Hard times will come, and you will feel demoralized often. It’s part of running a startup. When it happens, have some tricks to get yourself back on the wagon.

The best cure for demoralization is a feeling of making progress. For engineers, I often keep a list of half-day features that I always know are nice to have, fairly easy to do, but haven’t made it into the timeline. For business founders, send out some crucial outreach emails, follow up with contacts that should never have gone cold, or write some briefings that you can send to reporters and investors (or us).

Lastly, be on the lookout for an alumni event — we will try to schedule a mini reunion in the coming months!

- Lee Lin

PS: For a more detailed set of tips, I tend to re-read Paul Graham’s excellent essay, “How Not to Die” at least once a year. It’s important to note both companies mentioned, Wufoo and Octoparts, winded up successfully selling a few years later, even though both originally failed to secure VC investment.

http://www.paulgraham.com/die.html