Monday, June 17, 2024
1:02 PM
We’ve been hearing from some alumni members that re-engaging in Startup Haven feels a little weird. The two reasons we’ve heard: returning to any kind of networking has been hard post-COVID and some members are uncertain if they would still be welcome.

Regarding the post-COVID networking doldrums, we get it. We all seemed to have figured out how to get along just fine without dragging ourselves around town for networking events — driving, parking, avoiding the service providers, breaking away from inane conversations, and ever… getting dressed. The insight that I think a lot of us had was that we never really liked networking very much and COVID whispered in our ear that we didn’t really need it that much.
I would propose to you all that the solution is not to stay away from networking. It’s to find networking that is hyper-valuable for you. Find networking that doesn’t feel like networking. Find networking that feels like you’re just hanging out with your peers, with your tribe, with your friends. You know… like Startup Haven events.

Regarding uncertainty about being welcomed back, we get that, too. Unlike the COVID doldrums, this is one we can and want to fix. The most common use case we see is when a founder’s status has changed, i.e., they don’t feel like they meet Startup Haven’s member requirements any longer.

If you’re a founder and you shut down your startup, you might think “I’m not a founder anymore, so maybe I’m not qualified for Startup Haven.” That might be true… but it’s usually not. Failure is part of the game. It happens a lot more often than any other outcome. It’s a little like baseball in that way. If you can get a hit just one out of four times, you’re considered a badass with a bat. One in three? You’re a god. Imagine a baseball team that fired its players the first time they struck out at the plate. Or the second time. Or the third.

Most of the best outcomes that founders achieve do not happen on the first trip to the plate… or the second. This shit is hard and navigating to success often takes more than one trip to the plate. If we kicked out every founder whose startup failed, we’d be a pretty small group. And, more importantly, we would be casting off the most valuable asset founders have to give to other founders — experience. So Startup Haven wants you in the room to help other founders learn from your experience… and maybe find their way to a better outcome.

All that said, spending years on a startup that doesn’t work out is different than spending five minutes swinging a bat. It’s bigger. Much, much bigger. And it’s personal. As founders, our identities are tightly interwoven with our startups. And the mental stress founders face over those years is tremendous. Shutting down a startup can be devastating. But remember, it’s the startup that failed. Not you. I know that’s hard to come to. I know it very well. I’ve lived it. More than once. I have felt the regret, the depression, and the embarrassment.

Ah… the embarrassment. That’s the one, I think, that most often keeps founders from coming back to Startup Haven. But, honestly, this is when you need Startup Haven the most. Everyone in the room understands (at least with sympathy if not empathy) what you’re going through. And they want to help. There is not a more supportive group on planet Earth to hang with when things don’t go well for a founder. As anecdotal evidence, over the 20 years I’ve been hosting Startup Haven events, the loudest and most earnest applauses have always been when a member announces that they shut down their startup. As they say, you can feel the love in the room.

So whether you’re just ‘over’ networking or you’re unsure whether you’re still qualified, come on out. If your startup filed and you’ve given up completely on startups and are certain you’ll never do another one, then we should probably talk about retiring your membership. But even if that’s the case, come on out just one more time and share that story with us. Even though you’re done with it all, you can still squeeze some goodness out of it by sharing your story. Think of it as fertilizing a future startup with the composting corpse of your startup. Sorry… too soon? 🙂