How to Survive the Trough of Sorrow and Be Successful

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This blog post from Women 2.0 Founder Labs participant Resmi Arjunanpillai is titled "How To Survive The Trough Of Sorrow And Be Successful." Follow Resmi on Twitter at @resmia. Be persistent. That was a key piece of advice from Jessica Livingston, founder of Y Combinator, as she talked to the future founders at Women 2.0 Founder Labs, Mobile Edition.

She talked about several founders who had to pivot multiple times, but persisted and were successful. But what struck me most was the story of Y Combinator itself. Y Combinator is now so quintessentially cool that it is hard to imagine that they ever struggled. Jessica shared the story of how in the first year and a half, no one would return their calls and they could not get any press attention or funding. Eventually the success of their portfolio company Reddit and the launch of a program similar to Y Combinator from a VC firm helped them establish credibility and get traction. The rest is history. And that’s a true startup story.

Jessica also shared thoughts on multiple stages in the life of a startup

  • On building a team: Find a great co-founder - someone you can count on when you are going through the infamous Trough Of Sorrow. Discuss your philosophy on work-life balance, what to do if you get an early acquisition offer etc early on. Have at least one person who can code and one person who can sell.
  • On generating ideas: Start something to solve a problem that you experience.
  • On getting adoption: Listen to your users and get a few early users to love you.
  • On long-term success: Be persistent. Be ready to pivot as needed. A startup is a long, hard process. Be prepared for rejection (see Y Combinator story above)

Overall, we felt truly lucky to learn from someone who has seen so many startups go through their fledgling phase. Thank you, Jessica!