Why Failure Sucks

Everyone says failure is good for founders. It’s trendy, even cool. Easy to say, unless you’re the one failing. Besides, it’s not even true
BLINKMOMMY Emma Weisberg got the idea for Blinkbuggy when she became a mother. The former Google exec seemed to make all the right startup moves, but the market never rewarded her.

ONE BLUSTERY afternoon in March, I meet Emma Weisberg for coffee near her apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, at a diner called Utopia. Weisberg is petite, energetic, and warm, with thick brown hair that falls to her shoulders. Three years ago, she gave up a secure job at Google to go all in with Blinkbuggy. It’s a free online baby book, a digital vault for storing pictures and videos of your kids that Weisberg, 38, dreamed up when she became a mother. For a while, Blinkbuggy was her very own utopia. She raised a million dollars, built a beautiful product, won a coveted slot at a big-time startup accelerator, nailed her presentation on demo day, and spent much of last summer in heady conversations with angels and VCs, fully expecting funding for the next stage of Blinkbuggy’s growth.

That’s as far as she got. Everybody loved Blinkbuggy—how could they not? It’s cuteness to the nth degree. Several did their due diligence. But in the end, nobody else wrote a check. User growth stalled, revenue never materialized, the money ran out. She had to lay off everybody. Her husband, Liad Spiro, who had ditched his job to manage Blinkbuggy’s finances around the same time Weisberg left hers, returned to salaried work. Now Weisberg’s interviewing. She needs a paycheck. Anything to keep Blinkbuggy alive.

Weisberg’s not giving up. “Maintenance mode” is how she describes Blinkbuggy’s current status. Sometimes she cops to “sort of mid-fail,” which is admirable but doesn’t convey the full, hard truth: Weisberg launched a business into which she poured her heart and soul. And she failed.

That’s hardly shocking or even unusual. Most entrepreneurs do. Even Henry David Thoreau, who despised commerce, was sufficiently clued in to refer, in Walden, to what’s “been said of the merchants, that a very large majority, even ninety-seven in a hundred, are sure to fail …. ” An exaggeration, perhaps, but only a slight one. CB Insights, a venture capital database, recently looked at 1,027 tech companies that raised seed

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