How watching Chef’s Table made me love my failed startup

Image for post
Image for post

For about a year I had a tech startup. If you don’t know what a startup feels like, I can best describe it like this: Imagine you have a conjoined twin!

So, that’s what I had: A conjoined twin, who I shared every waking moment with for a year and who would regularly wake me up in the middle of the night and stress me out. I was completely aware of it and I was completely fine with it — at first.

However, within a year the relationship between me and my startup went from fine to tense to heartbreaking. But I also found an antidote in the most unlikely of places: By binge-watching cooking shows on Netflix!

My startup started out in a strange way because I didn’t have any ambitions of becoming an entrepreneur in the first place. I didn’t feel the need to become my own boss or manage my own time. I didn’t have any dreams of becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg.

The reason why I became an entrepreneur was that I had an idea and I wanted to test out: I wanted to see if my concept of mixing HR tech and alternate reality gaming would make sense as a product. So, I took a leap of faith, I quit my job, and I jumped into it. I gave myself a year to figure out if my startup could become a business.

Long story short: It couldn’t. After a year I realised that not only would I never become close to being Mark Zuckerberg. I wouldn’t even come close to being whoever the Mark Zuckerberg of HR tech gaming apps is. The concept never became a fully realised product and like 90% of all other tech startups, my company closed down.

I knew it was the reasonable thing to do, and officially I was completely over it. Unofficially, though, I was far from completely over it. Logically I knew my entrepreneurial adventure had been a great learning experience, full of highs and lows. Emotionally, I had a really hard time separating myself from my failed startup. I went from entrepreneur to failed entrepreneur and no matter what positive spin I could conjure up, I still just felt like a massive failure.

When faced with an existential crisis (and I think this qualifies as one), most people tend to grab onto any inspiration and comfort they can find. Whether it’s going for a run or taking up a new hobby or reading uplifting quotes about life and happiness on Pinterest. I’m like most people, except instead of going for a run or reading quotes, I opted for an old favourite: Watching cooking shows on Netflix! Especially “Chef’s Table”. I watched episodes about New Nordic Cuisine in Copenhagen and temple food in Korea. I watched episodes about New York-based cookie pushers and Italian chefs with equal disregard for local food tradition and respect for local produce. Episode after episode of cooking. I binged it, I ate it up, and I loved it!

If you’re not familiar with Chef’s Table I can highly recommend it. It mainly consists of mouth-watering slow-motion footage of the best food in the world. However, as any serious binge-watcher of the show knows, it’s also an homage to the creative and the entrepreneurial process. In its own way, Chef’s Table pays tribute to the people, who know that they will undoubtedly fail over and over again in the process of creating something extraordinary. It celebrates chefs, who both take culinary and financial risks, and who are constantly iterating, improving, and perfecting their work.

I know I’m not an internationally renowned chef, but still. That part of the show made me look at my entrepreneurial journey from a completely different perspective: By watching hours of chefs cooking, researching, failing, and cooking again I saw my own dedication, my willingness to take risks and improvise, my ability cope with constant high-paced high-blood-pressure-situations, my creative drive, and my curiosity, all being projected on the screen by these people.

It took me some time, but after hours of binge-watching I realised that I wasn’t just left with a failed startup, I was also left with all these new skills and values that I had learned along the way. And best of all: I was not afraid to fail!

So, this is what I learned about my startup from watching Chef’s Table: I learned that I probably didn’t have a conjoined twin after all. In the light of all these hard-working chefs, I feel like my startup was more like a recipe. And that the only way to find out if a recipe works is to test it out. Did it fail? Yes, but recipes sometimes do that. Did I get cuts, burns, and bruises? Of course, but after all, it’s worth the risk and the heartache.

Image source:

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store