Bad Luck

In a world where good luck helps the winners, what role does bad luck play?

Every startup success story combines many factors like grit, determination, skill, brilliance, speed of execution, etc. No one can doubt that those exist, but in addition to these factors, every successful startup has a fair share of good luck on their side as well. Whether it was the investor who woke up on the right side of the bed and wrote the first check or the chance encounter of meeting a future key executive at a Philz in SF, the tech industry was built on the back of wide luck surface areas (and the best founders will admit it).

If this is the case, why don’t we ever talk about bad luck for the cases where a startup doesn’t find success? If a founder blames their failure partly on bad luck, they come off as a sore loser who isn’t deserving of success. This is a dangerous place to be as an industry. I think we need to normalize the idea of bad luck, so if a founder fails, they know that it wasn’t all in their control, just like success isn’t 100% in a founders’ control either.

I’ll admit, writing this makes me feel “soft”. I want to think that the best founders just find a way, but I just have a strong feeling that this is a dishonest take. As long as some founders experience good luck on their journey to success, others experience bad luck on their journey to failure. And currently, it’s only acceptable to talk about one of those, even when the other is much more common. I don’t have any takeaways specifically, but it’s something to spend some time thinking about how this affects the industry we work in and leads to the systemic issues we have in regards to who gets funded + who wins/loses at the end of the day.

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