A profitable, growing, useful, legal, well-loved... failure - apenwarr

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2024-05-30 06:30:05

Since before graduating from university and up until taking my current job (which is its own story I'll tell some other time), I've initiated several things that could be called startups. That is, we incorporated companies, we had a small number of people that got paid wages, we collected Canada SR&ED tax credits. Every one of these startups turned a profit. More than one had outside financing. One of them we sold to IBM.

I'm telling you this not to show off, but as a setup for the rest of this story. What I want to explain is that I fail strangely. Or at least, it feels like I do. Maybe it's not so strange; maybe you should just go read Paul Graham's How Not to Die article, where he advises us that "Startups rarely die in mid keystroke. So keep typing!"

Because that's really the moral of this story; or maybe it isn't. Maybe this story is about how that advice hasn't actually worked for me, because inside each of those successes is a story of failure. It's interesting, because for any of the companies I've started, by leaving out some details I can honestly make them sound like resounding successes or resounding messes. If I include all the details, then, well they're just confusing. So you'll usually hear just one side or the other, depending what point I'm trying to make.

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