Stop Building Things that Don't Matter
Thoughts on significance and founder responsibility.
Venture—both venture capital and “venture” in the traditional sense of entrepreneurial pursuits—lies in fundamental ideas of progress. Building something from nothing; supporting world-class teams; creating an exciting, fulfilling, prosperous future… you’ve heard all the catch-phrases before.
Yet over the last bull market, significant entrepreneurial and investor resources were spent—wasted—on shit that doesn’t matter. Obvious “get rich quick” schemes and software with limited moats and low market penetration were funded at eye-watering multiples (some reaching above 300x revenue). Founders prioritized useless metrics like Twitter clout or conference attendance as signs of progress, instead of doing things that actually moved the needle in their startups.
You know times were good when revenue and profitability were just a blip on a founder’s horizon—more of an abstract concept than a materialized goal. Thanks to 2022’s tanking markets, a lackadaisical approach to business is no longer rewarded. Founders now have to… you know… think about actually making money. Wild.
I’ve written previously about stewardship, founder responsibility, and staying focused/disciplined amid noise. Those principles are ones that I hold closely and will fight for, regardless of whether a nonchalant founder attitude is trendy. Yet amidst all the conversation about what founders should/shouldn’t be doing and what metrics a startup should focus on, one important detail seemed to get lost in the shuffle: building things that actually matter to begin with.
“Evan, things that actually matter is completely subjective!” some might say. True, but only to a point. If you say that importance rests solely in the eye of the beholder, then you’re removing a founder’s responsibility to build something worthwhile.
Certain things will always matter.
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