Startups 
The emotional spectrum 
TechPeaks, Tento 2014 
Andy Parsons @andyparsons
TECHPEAKS 2014 
This talk 
Actual Suc ces s 
A p p a r e n t 
Succe s s 
Real i ty 
S tar t ing 
Startup press glorifies 
...
Me. 
• startup junkie. masochist. EE/music 
• co-founder/CTO Happify, CTO new ed tech stealth 
• founded/sold shrty 
• CTO...
not Me. 
• “STRATEGIST” (lessons learned are mine) 
• billionaire (still working hard) 
• IDEALIST
what is “success?” 
• milestone success 
• terminal success 
• coping success
TECHPEAKS 2014 
EMOTIONAL spectrum 
and: anger, boredom, fatigue, 
elation, depression, peace, shame, paranoia …
Happiness skills 
‣ savor 
‣ thank 
‣ aspire 
‣ give 
‣ empathize
stories 
‣ have collected a lot 
‣ all firsthand / secondhand 
‣ patterns are hundreds of years old, but… 
everything happ...
THE ups
celebrate these! 
‣ incorporating 
‣ first launch 
‣ key meeting goes well 
‣ first user 
‣ first revenue 
‣ key hire 
‣ f...
THE downs
hiring/firing/team management 
• making a great hire… or so you thought 
• no good time for people to leave 
• firing frie...
COMPETITION 
‣ must be better 
‣ envy - enemy of happiness
your health 
• things that are healthy, ironically, are the first to go 
• fatigue: mental and physical
funding and press 
‣ investors pass 
‣ press may not cover you 
‣ feedback: know their backgrounds and viewpoint 
‣ don’t ...
founder relationships 
• shit happens 
• personalities emerge 
• empathy
screw ups 
‣ servers crash 
‣ customers get mad. or just leave. 
‣ founder true colors show
network, social capital 
• nothing is more important!
cash and operating 
‣ Runway 
‣ the fundraising treadmill 
‣ limited burn vs hibernation mode 
‣ lights out
decision making and boards 
• decision paralysis 
• consensus 
• misaligned board members
doubt 
‣ responsibility of spending investor money 
‣ co-founders 
‣ market/customer 
‣ imposter syndrome 
‣ what am i doi...
CLosing thoughts
Trusting your gut 
‣ in matters of integrity 
‣ in the absence of data
the path of least resistance
Happiness skills 
‣ savor 
‣ thank 
‣ aspire 
‣ give 
‣ empathize
3 Good things 
‣ do it every day 
‣ counteracts natural tendencies 
‣ Works!
contact me: 
andyparsons@gmail.com 
@andyparsons 
thank 
you!
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Emotions of Startups 2014

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Emotions of Startups 2014

  1. 1. Startups The emotional spectrum TechPeaks, Tento 2014 Andy Parsons @andyparsons
  2. 2. TECHPEAKS 2014 This talk Actual Suc ces s A p p a r e n t Succe s s Real i ty S tar t ing Startup press glorifies SACRIFICE and DRAMA. ! But the truth is building a company is a journey full of exhilaration and pain. LET’S TALK ABOUT THAT. ! WHAT ARE THE DRIVERS OF STARTUP EMOTION? Fai lure
  3. 3. Me. • startup junkie. masochist. EE/music • co-founder/CTO Happify, CTO new ed tech stealth • founded/sold shrty • CTO Outside.in (acq. aol), bookish (acq. zola), DRR ... • MENTOR @ seedcamp, 500 Startups • ADVISOR to many NYC early stage teams • pragmatist
  4. 4. not Me. • “STRATEGIST” (lessons learned are mine) • billionaire (still working hard) • IDEALIST
  5. 5. what is “success?” • milestone success • terminal success • coping success
  6. 6. TECHPEAKS 2014 EMOTIONAL spectrum and: anger, boredom, fatigue, elation, depression, peace, shame, paranoia …
  7. 7. Happiness skills ‣ savor ‣ thank ‣ aspire ‣ give ‣ empathize
  8. 8. stories ‣ have collected a lot ‣ all firsthand / secondhand ‣ patterns are hundreds of years old, but… everything happens faster now!
  9. 9. THE ups
  10. 10. celebrate these! ‣ incorporating ‣ first launch ‣ key meeting goes well ‣ first user ‣ first revenue ‣ key hire ‣ funding ‣ hitting kpi milestone
  11. 11. THE downs
  12. 12. hiring/firing/team management • making a great hire… or so you thought • no good time for people to leave • firing friends • anxiety • mutiny
  13. 13. COMPETITION ‣ must be better ‣ envy - enemy of happiness
  14. 14. your health • things that are healthy, ironically, are the first to go • fatigue: mental and physical
  15. 15. funding and press ‣ investors pass ‣ press may not cover you ‣ feedback: know their backgrounds and viewpoint ‣ don’t doubt based on one or 2 meetings ‣ down rounds and no follow-on
  16. 16. founder relationships • shit happens • personalities emerge • empathy
  17. 17. screw ups ‣ servers crash ‣ customers get mad. or just leave. ‣ founder true colors show
  18. 18. network, social capital • nothing is more important!
  19. 19. cash and operating ‣ Runway ‣ the fundraising treadmill ‣ limited burn vs hibernation mode ‣ lights out
  20. 20. decision making and boards • decision paralysis • consensus • misaligned board members
  21. 21. doubt ‣ responsibility of spending investor money ‣ co-founders ‣ market/customer ‣ imposter syndrome ‣ what am i doing with my life?
  22. 22. CLosing thoughts
  23. 23. Trusting your gut ‣ in matters of integrity ‣ in the absence of data
  24. 24. the path of least resistance
  25. 25. Happiness skills ‣ savor ‣ thank ‣ aspire ‣ give ‣ empathize
  26. 26. 3 Good things ‣ do it every day ‣ counteracts natural tendencies ‣ Works!
  27. 27. contact me: andyparsons@gmail.com @andyparsons thank you!

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