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Wednesday, January 28, 2009



Dave, I just came across this post for the second time after a search about entrepreneurship. I fucking love how spot on you are... thanks for the edu-tainment if you know what I'm saying. I love your work and love your style even more...


That article is bang on. The proof is in what we do, our customers love us, the product, the problem we fix. they love that we are available, open, listening to what they need. I think the celebrity of the tech world is alluring. but doesn't build great companies.

Nor do you have to be living lavida loca in SF. Be anywhere.

Keep tight, keep efficient, out innovate, be smarter.



What a great way with words you have!

Wish we had more people like you in the UK!

I am a business advisor and meet startups daily - if only I could tell them this without worrying about them crying at the end of it, my life would be better!

Keep up the good work!


I'm glad I'm not the only one that feels like a complete douche b/c my first venture ended in tragedy and heartache. I'm on to venture number two. The harsh reality of no light at the end of the tunnel for most of us sucks. thanks for reminding us.


Very astute and inspirational in an irreverent and subversive kind of way.

Brad Wrage

Excellent post. I immediately thought back to Marc Anderssen's blog post "why not to do a startup". Why continue to work on something that you are passionate about?'s the hope that you actually have something that works in a great market.


You have been crowned the srart-up king.

Ravi V

Just started my own (survived the 1st year and counting!) out of India- along with some incredible friends. Can't agree more with you - passion, customer, problem, solution, in that order :).
Case in point: Work for someone else's start up to figure out the terrain ;). Worked for me - I was with an internet startup out of SV (that survived!) at the
BEGINNING of time.

Jared Goralnick

You always do make me feel like a tiny little entrepreneur who's driving at high speed in a country where they drive on the left. Thanks for being, once again, a sober voice of realism. I should see if I can get a picture of you to appear on my online bank account to remind me of metrics and conversions when I see our funds...

This stuff is exciting but it's also real frickin work. Thanks as always.

Rachel Strate

Great post, Dave. Working on the VC side I see numerous entrepreneurs who are "passionate" about their businesses... until things get a little rough. However, the true passionate entrepreneurs are fantastic to work with and amazing in the feats they accomplish.

Thanks for the post.


I know this is too far down to post a comment...but am a startup entrepreneur and am enlightened (if not kicked in my startup balls) by this article. Just love the way it is written and love the way it reinstills my faith to work harder (i dunno why, but it does )

Apolinaras 'Apollo' Sinkevicius

This is absolutely brilliant article! I have tasted what it is like to work with 1st time ego-laden "entrepreneurs" who have no idea what they are doing. They were too busy talking about how entrepreneurial they are, but at the same time they were causing a wake of damage behind them.
I was fortunate to jump ship from two ventures with partners like that. Yes, there was damage sustained in both cases. There will be no third time!
This article is going in my Digg and I am sending a link to couple of college students I mentor.


Dave, Spent the day with Trevor Loy of Flywheel Ventures yesterday and he explained why he preferred backing entrepreneurs over MBAs. It's because they continue to persevere even when it makes no sense; no commercial sense.

Jason Liebe

A great way to become successful is to make your customers successful. That takes a lot of passion and hard work. All eyes are on company leadership -- if he or she is faking the funk everyone down the chain can read it, and everything will go to hell.

If you're not passionate about helping your customers, you're disrespecting them and you deserve to fail.

Andrew Cairns

hehehehe, great post!

Tony Eyles

great - love it. Money should be a by-product. Few make it big and while its great and motivating to celebrate them, the unsung heroes are those that have the gumption to give it a go.

Rich Wojtczak

I started a company using high end simulation technology 5 years ago to address the abysmal driver training we have in this country, and use Jacqueline's story in our DUI classroom material. I have often talked about being on a roller coaster ride in reverse as the years have passed, with the highs getting higher and the lows getting harder to put up with. Your post really hit home, because it is the passion to make a difference that has kept us going.

tom summit

Got it! it is still about discipline and commitment to build something people want. The footsteps of others only lead you to the deep snow. Then you need the heart to finish the journey.



Maybe learning this the hard way is all part of the true Silicon Valley Entrepreneurial experience.

Karl Long

Great post Dave, I don't ever think to be quite so strident but you are dead right. I've lost a lot more over this last decade in my life than I have gained financially, but I have gained volumes in experience. I actually feel the last decade has been like a tough boot camp, and now it's really on :)

Mukund Mohan

Good post. Typical Dave style. But spare a thought for the young entrepreneurs, or first timers. Its not easy to figure this out and even entrepreneur who are "serial" dont get the customer problem right. Which is why you see so many "solutions" in search of a problem.

Its not a displaced thing to have passion to make money BTW. Different strokes. May not work for the entrepreneur but you cant say its wrong.

Damon Billian

That's why I make it a point to work for companies that have products I believe in & use in some way on a daily basis.

One of the problems I see in the Valley? Too much focus on the engineering side of the equation, not enough development on the "What the customer" wants side (you do, of course, have to balance company & customer needs in a reasonable way).

While I am not a CEO, largely because I am an idiot, I do get a great deal of joy from taking customer feedback & watching companies turn that feedback into a tangible product solving a problem of some sort for someone.

Glenn Kelman

Love it Dave, absolutely love it.


How about a tax on filing a company registration. Like $10,000 to incorporate (that doesn't go to a lawyer).


You just made my Innovative Entrepreneurship class's reading list... :)

Mike Walsh

I love it Dave - it's hard ass work - and thrilling to see customers succeed as the result of something that you built and delivered.

Andrew Parker

When Faulkner originally published The Sound and the Fury, he wrote in a letter to his editor that he wished he could publish the book in multiple color print, where each color would represent a change in time or voice.

Your blog posts totally remind me of that... the way you use colors is great, and really adds semantic value... to reblog this stuff in black and white would be to lose a piece of the meaning.

Anyway, keep up the great blogging, glad to see you're back.

Alex Hillman


Being the CEO of a startup (or even being in one) has been glamorized. It's not sexy.

Startups are the 'punk rock' of the business world. It's ugly most of the time, but fuck it, we'll do it because we love what we're creating.


I've reported you to the Silicon Valley thought police. Representatives from major VC firms with white coats should be at your door any second now!
First rule of SV entrepreneurship: we don't talk about the failures.
Second rule of SV entrepreneurship: we don't talk about the venture dilution machine.

Jennifer A. Jones

Hilarious and absolutely right on!

Marissa Louie

Love the kick-in-the-pants language.

Yes, damn, it's hard and I relate to a lot of what you went through.


Peter Rothman

Hey Dave, I think you and I started the same company.

Shawn Thompson

Terrific advice. I could forward this to some of my old clients who remain focused on valuation rather than building their business and failed in raising needed capital because of it.

Krista Neher

Wow - great article, and SO TRUE.

The success stories always get the most attention (who would want to publicize their failed start-up?) making it seem glamorous vs. the realities of how hard it is - both physically and emotionally.

Again, Great post - thanks for sharing :)


Thank you. I have to talk myself out of being an entrepreneur everyday. It's kind of like walking by a strip club: you know that nothing good is going to come out of going in there except maybe a fitter (trimmed down) wallet and a need to change shorts, but resisting the impulse takes active will. "I will walk right by, I will NOT open the door"

Thanks for the straight talk-- no intervention. Please tell me again tomorrow.


Dan Arkind


Mark MacLeod

Love it. This should be essential reading for all startup entrepreneurs

Elliott Ng

OMG this is totally right on bro. Say it again from the mountaintops. Wean us off of our individual and collective narcissism so we can start focusing on doing important things where we don't care if we fail...and stop revering those who have exploited our worship of the entrepreneurial ideal to grab our undeserved attention. So say we all!!

Nick O'Neill

Dave, this is so true. The only successful entrepreneurs I know were willing to work their but off for practically nothing just to build something incredible for the customer. For some convoluted reason the pain that entrepreneurs face at the beginning has personally become an inspiration for me to work harder. Either way ... great post!

Lee Garverick

Yep. The customer is the rock star, not the startup.


Amen indeed. I'm tired of reading all the breathless "business strategies" from start-up CEOs that have no revenues. The only money many of them seem to be able to make is investment money. A talent in of itself, sure. But how about waiting until AFTER the business is successful before they start preaching to the industry about chasm crossing, schism crossing, business / IT alignment, et al.


Should tattoo that on the inside of my eyeballs

Amen, brother

Jim Kukral

Yep, you have to love your customers and what you do. I love teaching people and guiding them and seeing them succeed. That's my drive. Nice points in this post.

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