It’s a lot more exciting to read about a lottery winner than a story about thousands of people who spent $20 on losing tickets that really should have used that money for groceries. Or as Kristof says even more eloquently in a recent column: journalists have a bias toward sensational news. "We cover planes that crash, not planes that take off."
Like everyone else starting a company I knew the road would be tough and that failure was nearly inevitable. Yet, we planned our launch to be a big surprise reveal. We planned to be able to technically support thousands of concurrent users. And we expected the press coverage we’d seen when seemingly every other company launched. I attribute these expectations to my warped understanding of entrepreneurship due largely to what I'd seen in the media.
Some of the startup stories the press doesn’t tell:
The founder that flushes her 401k and racks up hundreds of thousands of dollars in credit card debt.
The founder whose spouse leaves them after decades of marriage when the startup takes over their former lover’s life.
HORRIBLE board member investor behavior that almost never comes out.
The thousands of startups that launched last year but never closed any investor money.
The zombie years where growth in employees, revenue, or usage is flat or declining.
I understand that no one wants to go on record talking about these scenarios but one on one over coffee or beers I’ve heard stories like these time and time again. I think it is a big disservice to the startup community that they aren’t talked about more publicly so entrepreneurs can start with better information than The Social Network as their blueprint for entrepreneurship. That would be like chefs using The French Laundry as their model for what it’s like to start a restaurant or Adele as a prototype for a singer.