"Paul Graham: So how can they tell? How can these people, you know it would save them a lot of trouble if you tell could tell them now whether they are going to succeed in starting a startup. How can they tell if they are driven enough?
Ron Conway: Well I mean are you willing to work 24/7. The really great entrepreneurs are 24/7. The word moonlighting is not even in their vocabulary. I mean if they are dating somebody or they are married, they warn their spouse that they are not first in line. That this company dream is first in line and that you have this vocation. It's like being a priest or a nun that your duty is to your company. No, it has to be that fanatical and if you look at all the successful entrepreneurs they are that committed about it. That is a hard commitment, but once you are willing to make that commitment then it solves the work ethic check off. If you have that commitment then your passion is probably infectious. It probably means you can in fact find other people and make them as excited about your idea as you are."
That advice reminded me of an explanation I once heard about why scam emails intentionally use terrible spelling, grammar and punctuation: it filters out people who wouldn't fall for the scam, and only someone desperate enough to willfully ignore the obvious warning signs will actually go through with it. This seems like the same exact thing. Anyone in their right mind will realize this is not in their best interest, so maybe only people not in their right minds will give 25/8 of their time to things like this, making someone else lots of money through decisions made while overworking themselves "for the sake of the dream" and being pressured into making sleep-deprived judgement calls that benefit other stakeholders more. Or maybe not, I have no idea.
From parent: "Ron Conway: Well I mean are you willing to work 24/7"
So, yes. That's exactly what they are saying.
Before you take this kind of advice, take a good long look at what you want from life. Before you take a vow to support your business you should remember the vows you've already made.
Turns out it didn't, and when my wife pronounced the word "divorce", I dropped it all (the tension was anyway rising between me and the team for some months) to save my marriage.
I was lucky enough that it ended well on my personal life. And that's the last time I make this mistake. Wealth is cool, loved ones are what matters (at least for me).
On a side note, they're still struggling to finish their app.
The social bonds are so strong, I know plenty of marriages where the husband is living abroad usually middle East and comes home literally for few days in a year and the marriages still survive
Pretty much all studies on performance shows that you achieve more and perform better if you take breaks and rest. May be sport or chatting with people in office or anything. So I mean, live like monk if that is your dream, but if you want maximum long term performance then 24/7 is likely feel good motivational bullshit.
Ron Conway wasn't advising the audience to tell their spouse they aren't first in line. Instead, he's offering up his observations of past successful entrepreneurs of big internet startups. Observations != advice.
If there are abundant counterexamples of tech startups that became successful even though the founder worked 40 hours and no more, people should list them. Believe me, HN would love to know about them to learn their ideas. The context is the kinds of tech startups that Ron Conway and Paul Graham are discussing.
In any case, the kind of founders that work 80+ hours a week trying to make their startup a success don't need people like RC to give them advice about prioritizing their business over their relationships. The founders are doing that anyway! (E.g. Steve Jobs ignoring his girlfriend & daughter.) RC's just standing on the sidelines relating the behaviors he's observed.
Which, at the scale of business they are referring to, might just be the reality. Although I also find it to be a very distasteful warping of human priorities, personally.
The Silicon Valley pattern of VC-backed startups is distinct from other patterns of new business formation. This SV pattern focusses on high-growth and high-valuation. It is specifically geared for wealth-creation. That's the primary motivation for most of the key people involved, definitely the motivation of the investors. It's a well-known fact that VC's need outsized returns for their investment model to make sense. So it's not even just making money that is the priority, it's making a lot of money. There are other more predictable ways to start and build businesses if your goal is not maximum return on investment.
So to me, when an investor says, "If you aren't going to put your startup in front of everything else in your life. It will fail," it sounds a lot like, "Making money is more important than people."
It's the difference between a priest or a nun following what they believe is their life's calling and a televangelist promising their audience blessing if only they'll sacrificially give their life savings as offering.
It's also worth pointing out that Ron Conway (as far as I can tell) was never actually a founder himself. He's not had to take his own advice. To be fair, I'm not familiar with all the details of his life, so maybe I'm mis-characterizing.
I've spent a good portion or my career working with and for startups and small businesses, so I'm not just against them on principle, but this advice, coming from this source really feels off to me in the same way that as a Christian televangelists feel disturbing and off.
Oh, and do you literally expect a "great" entrepreneur to work 24/7? Good luck with that.
The only time to do something important is right now. If you found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, marry them. Today. Life won’t wait.
Secondly, the culture of startup Uber alles is real dubious and I question the wisdom of dedicating yourself 100% without question to a group of venture capitalists who are, bluntly, counting on most of you to fail. Trust is reciprocal. Don’t get too far out over your skis- this is business and managing resources and risk is your job. I’ve been doing this long enough to know that you are costantly triaging your time and energy, and without a strong sense of priorities and boundaries, you will be totally consumed by the endless cycle of other people’s wants. There are a lot of people who will tell you to go all in and sacrifice everything for the company. I think most of those people have an agenda that is serving their interests over yours.
Lastly, man, I work real hard and have for a long time. You have a ceiling where your hours are going to get real soft efficiency wise on a consistent basis. You can go 60 hours a week with a family. Very few people can put more than that number of hours in at their job without experiencing a real sharp productivity dip in their per hour output. I would submit that most of the folks going 80, 100, 120 a week for sustained periods of time are getting nothing they couldn’t have with a disciplined, 100% focused schedule and a family. They’re selling out the only life they’ve got for a handful of sloppy meetings or ugly code. Go home and have dinner with your kids. Hug your husband. Get a couple hours in on the weekend. Delegate more stuff, better. Focus on finding and executing what’s going to move the needle, and cut out the rest.
Like, who is this article for? Are there single founders in committed relationships who aren't taking the next step because they fear they'll break the ranks of stereotypcial single founders? Founders in bad marriages (which I would believe make up a decent portion of them) know that their work isn't helping their relationship, and those in good marriages already know this.
For most of history, society has told young men to get married so they can form households. There was a good reason for that (aside from propagation of the species): it's very difficult for a single man to, for example, run a farm by himself.
Nobody lives in a vacuum, and there will be drastic demographic changes in the United States. If you have a culture where even looking at a woman is construed as harassment, this is the result. Let's not forget about being saddled by mountains of uncancellable college debt. I'd rate this article a solid C+; pseudointellectual tier.
I worked as much as I could on my startup the first two years. I knew that I could have successful dates individually, but that I didn't have the bandwidth to sustain the followup interactions dating would require. I put off dating for those two years, and went the company eventually went bust I definitely regret putting my life on hold like that.
Having a genuine relationship with someone is a good way to stay grounded in your perception of all other human relationships.
Too many times in life, people just want to exploit you; if you don't have a model of what a healthy relationship looks like then soon enough you will be surrounded with the wrong kind of people and you won't even realize it.
All that to say that the article shouldnt have being framed as "advice for single founders", but as just a commentary of this social aspect of founders.
It comes down to setting boundaries, doing the right thing for yourself and your customers and believing in yourself.
If the reason your startup failed is because you weren't 24/7, then trust me, there were many other reasons why your startup failed.
A marriage contract is the worst – often wildly lopsided – contract people can enter into. Family courts are corrupted by the revolving door of judges and divorce lawyers.
Without family or friends, what's the point of life?
GP Quote from: http://simpsons.wikia.com/wiki/The_Old_Man_and_the_Lisa/Quot...
Which is interesting, because the point of sarcasm is that it's so obviously phony that it's funny...and yet this one fails because some people actually advocate this. Look at the exchange quoted in the top comment:
> Ron Conway: Well I mean are you willing to work 24/7....I mean if they are dating somebody or they are married, they warn their spouse that they are not first in line.
That was, as best I can tell, completely genuine.