Failure Culture in Start-ups
In the technological entrepreneurial culture, it is well known that most start-ups fail. The number is very high: 3 in every 4. The reasons can vary from running out of funding or losing a founder, to determining there isn’t a big enough market for your product or service. Either way, failing in Silicon Valley is one of the least terrible things that can happen to you.
When we start a company, fear of failing can be paralyzing. We imagine how terrible it would be to lose our savings, share with our friends and family how what we tried didn’t work out, and the idea of being pointed out as losers overwhelms us. Nevertheless, in the start-up culture it’s very clear than a failing company is not a synonym for failing founders, but quite the opposite: it is promoted to be very vocal about our mistakes.
Something important to take into account is that you are not your start-up and the possibility to eventually take on a new project is high. Learning from each of your experiences generates a track record that has more value than just one project.
In the Bay Area, with so many projects in development, it’s common to listen to founders’ stories that show that the knowledge gathered by previous failed projects helped them realize what they had to do differently for their new start-ups. Failing is a synonym for learning.
As part of this new entrepreneurial culture, failing fast and sharing is more recommended than doing it in a silent way. It is clear that it’s better to end a project that has no future when the investment in time and money is still low, than to postpone the closing of a company that is destined to die. Being prideful and pretending that everything is fine or keeping the failure a secret can be more counterproductive for the entrepreneur than it may seem, thus it would look like he didn’t learn anything from it. In Silicon Valley, learning and sharing knowledge is a cultural pillar.
In Latin America our perception towards failure is very different. Socially it is hard to be open to share our mistakes but little by little we are letting go of old conventionalisms and nurturing new entrepreneurs with past experiences. In Mexico for example, Fuckup Nights takes place once a month, a networking event to share failure stories and lessons learned in a relaxed way. Are there any discussion spaces around failure in your city?
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