The Pros and Cons of Hybrid Entrepreneurship

Lucas J. Pols
4 min readJul 31, 2018

As seen on Forbes The Pros and Cons of Hybrid Entrepreneurship

Leap. Quit your job. Leave it all behind. Follow your dream. I am tired of reading posts about entrepreneurship written by people who have no idea what they are doing. The notion of walking away from your current career or school is utter nonsense unless you have a venture that can raise capital or sustain itself long enough to hit some inflection point.

I was fortunate enough to have Professor Noam Wasserman — writer of The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup — write a case study about me and my previous venture regarding hybrid entrepreneurship. While prepping for it, he gave me access to a critical piece of research written by Dr. Joseph Raffiee, which showed that hybrid entrepreneurs, those who work while starting a venture have a 33.3% lower chance of a hazardous exit. That is a significant number. As an entrepreneur, you have the odds of success stacked against you just by thinking about entering this field. If you can eke out any advantage or edge, it could mean the difference between success and failure.

When you walk away from being a hybrid entrepreneur and into running your venture full time, a couple of things happen. Here are the positives and negatives of taking this path:

The Positives Of Hybrid Entrepreneurship

• Your runway doesn’t start. A venture’s runway is the amount of time you have before you run out of money and your venture fails. You extend your runway by raising capital or increasing revenue, but if you jump too early, you’re setting yourself up for failure. If you stay in what you are currently doing, that clock doesn’t start ticking, and you buy yourself valuable time.

• You retain your network. One of the most undervalued aspects of creating a startup is the network of the founder. When you walk away from a career, you lose access to most of the resources of that network, making it more difficult to navigate the treacherous waters of starting fundraising or gaining customers.

• You can recover from failure easier. Unless you’ve been part of the crazy startup world, you may not understand the crushing pressure that comes with it. If you have a setback while in hybrid entrepreneurship, it isn’t the end of the world. But if it happens while you have jumped in and have almost no margin for error, it hits a lot harder.

The Dangers Of Hybrid Entrepreneurship

• Your IP could be at risk. Of course, there are no free lunches. What you need to worry about while being an entrepreneur is making sure your organization doesn’t have a right to lay claim to the venture you are creating. Many universities now have a technology commercialization department that finds technology built at the university and licenses it out. If they come across your venture and you didn’t follow the proper guidelines, they might have a claim to it. The same thing can happen if you create something while working for a corporation. Moonlighting isn’t illegal in California, but you’d better make sure that your venture and your job’s IP do not cross paths.

• Your work may not align. The trouble I had the first time I did hybrid entrepreneurship was that the industry I worked in and the industry I was going into were diametrically opposed. The challenge with this is that I couldn’t execute on either side. You will run into difficulties networking with the right people and gaining expertise for both sides, and your mental capacity will be highly strained. It is not fair to your employer or your venture if you are faltering at both, and I would never advocate burning a bridge by doing lackluster work for your current employer.

• You will have major decisions to make. There will come a time when you will have to choose between your venture and where you work. For me, I know I’ll have to hire a CEO and step away from my venture eventually because I love what I do. If you are considering leaving your place of employment, make sure you have a strong enough base of customers ready to pay you for your service or the ability to raise capital. We need to stop advocating for people to walk away from their careers for ventures we aren’t even sure will work.

There is no doubt that hybrid entrepreneurship is not for everyone. As entrepreneurs, we are already bold enough to consider taking the leap, which makes us crazy in its own right, but it is worth considering the data when deciding to leap into full-time entrepreneurship. It very well might save you and your venture in the long run.

Lucas is the founder of Spark xyz, platform management software for incubators, accelerators, Angel groups, and VC’s.



Lucas J. Pols

Chairman of the Board @ Spark xyz | President Tech Coast Angels