How do I deal with yet another failure?
My last failure as a startup founder sits with the now defunct Subtense.io, artificially intelligent patent search and analysis tools.
As we ramped up and as CEO I needed to chat folks up and let our fellow Earthlings know we existed.
Both internal and external forces proved our hopes and efforts and timing were not enough. When I knew we would fail — even though our investors wanted to put in more money — I reached out to our entire team (staff through investors through supporters) to explain why.
“All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong, and repairs the evil.
The only crime is pride.”
― Sophocles, Antigone
To kick-start my personal catharsis I volunteered to share some lessons with Nick and Ivan, and they accepted: Winding Down a LegalTech Startup
This, by the way, was about 6% of the overall work I did to push through the disappointment and depression and frustration and AUUUUUUUGH!
I really, really, really, really, really, really wanted Subtense.io to succeed for a near infinite number of reasons with my own personal success either last or not on the list. (Personal gain does not motivate me, a tricky thing to manage.)
I wanted Inventors to have an easy understanding of where they stood.
I wanted IP holders to know the landscape of their universe without effort.
I wanted disreputable Patent Attorneys and trolls to quake in mortifying fear, sleepless, knowing their nonsense would die a violent, transparent death.
And I was wrong, failing in public and on the official record. Again.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
— Winston Churchill
I still have not completely worked through the pain from nearly 2 years ago, and I made a handful of errors, too, by chiming in on folks too soon in my own recovery.
No damage there, really, save some embarrassment in hindsight. People know when you’re down because you took a bodyblow and an uppercut and a 2x4 to the knees, and most are compassionate about losing.
One of the ways I now address failure in the moment — to start any catharsis and learning ASAP — comes from SpaceX…