I’m happy to see another acquisition coming from Sweden. So happy I was about to write how PlusFourSix is strengthening its offering within digital entertainment through the acquisition of Global Media Bank. Then decided not to. There’s something more interesting that I wanted to share.
Petteri Koponen, Jaiku co-founder and now partner at Lifeline Ventures, shared many interesting tidbits about his career as an entrepreneur at Aalto Entrepreneur Society Bootcamp event, but the best part was him telling about the emotional roller coaster that an entrepreneur is bound to go through (jump into 23.02 on the video, if you want to go straight to the ’emotional part’). Just as Koponen says, it’s exhausting and the lows are really low and highs are really high, but once you get the taste, it’s very hard or even impossible to go back to working for the man.
Koponen touches on various emotions that are an intrinsic part of the startup game including excitement, rejection, exhaustion, pride, greed, anxiety, aggression and freedom.
From an experience I can tell you he’s right. On hindsight, the rough experiences are almost the best ones since those are the ones that you learned most from and it’s great to look back realizing how you overcame them. But when you are in that emotional death valley, there’s nobody who can say its worth the feeling. It just sucks and you feel like a failure. But once you taste the highs, you’re hooked on entrepreneurship.
To get through the emotional ride, many say that every great entrepreneur has their ‘reality distortion field’, which prevents them from believing the criticism and getting down from the set backs. What this reality distortion field really does is it protects you from the reality that all the others live in. In many ways, this is as good as it is bad: You want to know when to drop a bad idea and on hindsight you always wish you’d done it earlier. But on the other hand, you might be just on the brink of a turning it into the biggest success story anyone has ever seen, so its really hard to know when to keep going and when the make the big turn.
I remember Paul Graham once saying (It might have been someone else too. I have a horrible memory when it comes to who said what) that at Y Combinator they had analyzed all the different qualities that successful entrepreneurs had and that the one quality with the biggest correlation with success was sheer determination. Sheer determination was a bigger factor than your experience, intelligence or anything else in determining who was successful and who wasn’t. Given the emotional roller coaster every successful entrepreneur goes through – the same one Koponen talks about – It becomes clear that it really is the sheer determination and blindness to set backs that distinguishes the great from the mere good.