By Tara Hunt (Co-Founder & CEO, Buyosphere)
I was asked to speak at a conference in Toronto about my startup experience in Canada. But I didn’t just want to talk about Canada. I wanted to highlight a bigger issue with being a startup entrepreneur: the frothiness of this moment.
All I was reading in every tech blog, magazine and newspaper was how easy it was to get funding, how much funding everyone is getting and how millions were signed up here and everyone is partying like it’s 1999 again. Yet after almost a year of looking (and 6 months of seriously looking), Buyosphere is still unfunded.
I recently read (I think it was on Chris Dixon’s blog) that if you haven’t got funding in a couple of months, you should re-examine your idea. Personally, I think it’s bullshit. There are plenty of examples of amazing ideas and great startups that had a tough time getting funding. Pandora, AirBnB, Evernote and even Rovio (company behind Angry Birds) all had difficulty getting funding and they are the lucky ones because they stuck with it and finally proved the world wrong. I then discovered that only 1% of startups EVER get funded. EVER.
So why was I feeling bad about myself? Because those stories and stats aren’t talked about. So I decided to dig up the reality and present it to the conference audience. Unfortunately, I had the world’s worst time slot. Last session of last day (on a Saturday), so there were only about 40 people in the room. I gave my presentation with heart and those 40 people really engaged with it. Then I posted the presentation like I always do and Slideshare featured it like they have done before (I heart them – they like my presentations and are still one of my favorite startups). No big deal. I usually get a couple thousand hits on those presentations before the next big thing comes along.
But something crazy happened. This presentation started spreading. And it spread to and through people I would have never guessed: Chris Arsenault, David Rose, Dave McClure and other investors who I was sure would hate my take on the “game” (I was a little harsh about investor’s ability to truly predict winners). Many entrepreneurs — wildly successful to newly hatched. People who work at Google and other big companies. Then I started to get emails. LOTS of them. Around 40 per day! And they were THANKING me for the presentation. I usually get a handful. Nothing like this. Posts to Facebook, Twitter, blogs… Tons of people talking about it. Now I have over 80,000 views in just a week and I keep hearing through the grapevine that so-and-so sent it around the office or another person presented it (giving me credit) in their class. Amazing.
I’m completely flummoxed, but also not. I know I needed to hear the more realistic stats about who gets funded in order to keep going. There are already way too many reasons for an entrepreneur to get discouraged or to lose heart, let alone letting hyped up fiction get you down! So I did my research and told my own story in a way that I hoped would be just entertaining enough to sweeten up a harsh reality. And I gave it as someone who is living it right now. The anguish AND the passion. I have a dream. I’m stubborn and want to see it through. So I figured there would be others out there like me.
Sure enough, there are. 🙂
Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.
Abou the guest blogger: Tara “missrogue” Hunt is a crazy audacious dreamer and the co-founder and CEO of Buyosphere. Tara was named as one of the most influential women in technology as well as one of the 25 female startup founders to watch in Fast Company Magazine. She wrote The Whuffie Factor/The Power of Social Networking (published in 8 languages), is a conference speaker and co-founded the international coworking movement. Follow her on Twitter at @missrogue.