Illustration of Derek Powazek by Adam Ellis

Starting Up: Nobody Go Near A Bus

cute-fightWe’re working feverishly on Cute-Fight right now, so I’m thinking about startups. This is one of those thoughts.

There’s a lot to say about how hard startups are. They require an enormous investment of time and energy. And even when you go in prepared, there are still moments when you say, DAYAM this is a metric fuckton of work. (Cussing helps relieve stress. Science said so.)

So why do it? Here’s one reason.

There are four of us working on Cute-Fight right now. If any one us were hit by a bus, we’d be fucked. (Again, cussing helps.) We are all doing several jobs at once, and every one of them is absolutely critical.

Devin is responsible for everything on the backend. He’s programming, administering the servers, and doing tech support. James is the designer, but he’s also writing serious frontend code. Chris is drawing as fast as he can, as well as thinking through how those illustrations work on web pages. I’m kind of the conductor and the cleanup crew. I’m art directing, designing the game mechanics, talking to investors and mentors, writing the site text, and responding to feedback from our members. (Side thought: All CEOs should have to respond to support email. It’s impossible to maintain any illusions in the face of an inbox full of people with the same feedback.)

If any one of us was hit by a bus right now, the whole thing would fall apart. This is not the way “real” businesses work, but that’s also why people like us start companies. When is that last time you felt completely irreplaceable at your job? Like the company’s life or death depended on you doing your very best work?

The insanity of starting up is crushing, but so is the boredom and monotony of “regular” work. If you’re someone who feels replaceable and extraneous at your job, try a startup. It’ll make you crazy, but you’ll never feel unimportant.

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Hi, I’m Derek. I used to make websites. Now I grow flowers and know things. I’m mostly harmless. More.