Hard to Earn

by Matt Johnson

SO, I’m founding a start-up. Well, technically I’m founding a start-up with a team of talented contributors. We’re going to conquer the world by using [technology] to deliver [adjective] outcomes for [customer segment] in [industry]. It’s going to be amazing!

‘Intro (The First Step)’

You know what’s awesome about start-ups? Everyone genuinely wants to get involved with your company in some way, and everyone has an opinion on how to build it. “Focus on these customers.” “Don’t forget to do X,Y,Z.” “Beware of these pitfalls.” Etc. etc. etc.

Here’s the thing, though: All of that guidance and opinions and parables and bullshit out there starts once you’ve actually founded the company. You can find resources on product development, finding customers, raising money, blah, blah, blah. Very few people talk about how to get to the starting line. The “holy shit, we’re going to start a real company with real responsibilities!” starting line.

Where are the mentors who want to help you incorporate? Who want to help you pick your founders? Who want to help you build your board, without requiring a seat? Who love employer ID numbers, and taxes, and choosing the correct fucking insurance? No one eagerly steps up to help with the hard, boring, unsexy, soul-crushing, yet absolutely critical, decisions required to get started. Unless they want a piece of the company.

How many companies fail at this stage? Is this the plight of the COO? What challenges are next? Does any of it really matter?


Bitching aside, our technology can win (I’ve been told start-up rule #2 is ‘Always believe’). I really, truly, believe that (see previous sentence). Can our team win? Let’s find out…



  1. I hope to post with some regular cadence, but no guarantees. Sorry.
  2. I know how to use Google. Please do not send me anything from the first 2 pages of search results to ‘help out’. I respect your effort, so save those links for a more appropriate time when I’m ready to digest your guidance fully. I promise you’ll have that opportunity.
  3. I’ll reveal our product soon.
  4. I know founders and start-up blogs are played out like your mom’s haircut. Or two-tone down goose. Also, you couldn’t converse if you had fucking React Juice (R.I.P. Diggy, s/o Grandmama).
  5. I know I can be a know-it-all. It’s on my self-improvement list.
  6. Yes, those are rap-nerd easter eggs.
  1. 1. by Matt Johnson
  • ‘Intro (The First Step)’