Salud! A Startup Postmortem

“If you are an entrepreneur in a company that is failing, don’t be ashamed. Most startups fail.”

That’s from a well-known blog post by investor Brad Feld about failed startups. His prescription: have a wake for the startup and celebrate its life. Why? Because failure isn’t the end of the world. At Switchyards Downtown Club, we agree.

Startups have failed for years-upon-years, and they will continue to fail for years-upon-years. By their very nature, most startups fail because, if an idea should obviously exist, it would already exist.

If you’re an entrepreneur and you’re reading this post, chances are that your startup will fail.

But, failure isn’t necessarily a judgment on an entrepreneur’s work ethic, intellect, or creativity. It’s also not a scarlet letter that will follow him or her for the rest of his or her life.

Now, it’s true that failure sucks, and sentiments from third-parties, no matter how encouraging, may not help that much. The feeling inside is awful. There are tears, long nights watching reruns on the Game Show Network, and unhealthy consumption of General Tso’s chicken. Entrepreneurs pour time and money into their ideas, and they sacrifice all sorts of things in pursuit of their grand visions. These post-failure behaviors are understandable. Ending your dream sucks. A lot.

But there is something tangible that can be taken away from the “failure is ok” school of thought. Something that will lead to brighter days after the entrepreneur has ventured out of the physical and metaphorical cave. For that, we turn again to Brad:

What matters is how you handle it and what happens next.

At Switchyards, we interpret that quote as follows:

“What matters is how you handle it…” — Did an entrepreneur take the opportunity to be thoughtful about why he or she failed?

“… and what happens next.” — Will the entrepreneur apply those learnings to his or her next startup?

We believe that true failure only occurs when the time spent on a startup was a complete waste. In other words, nothing was learned.

With that in mind, we announce Salud!— our take on Brad Feld’s wake. Salud! will be a members only event at Switchyards, and an opportunity for our community to hear lessons learned by “failed” entrepreneurs. Our goal is three-fold:

1) First and foremost, support the entrepreneur whose idea did not succeed;

2) Encourage the entrepreneur to be thoughtful about the reasons that the business did not succeed; and

3) Accelerate the learnings and successes of all members of our community by allowing the entrepreneur to share lessons learned.

The first Salud! will occur on Friday, August 26. It’ll be at 5:00 PM during our weekly happy hour, and Jason Sosnovsky, our Lightning Slinger, will tell us about his experience with The Frank.

Atlanta is a nascent startup community. This is even more so in the B2C scene. So, our goal with Salud! is to ensure that the entrepreneurs who ventured into this scene stick with it and get better. That’s what’s best for all involved.