The fame game – blink and you’ll miss it, founders
If you’ve spent the past 2 years writing Django code in your grandparents’ potting shed, with just a sack of compost and an old garden hose for company, stepping out from the gloom and into the bright lights of the world of startup fame is going to be as tough, and probably as sticky as your grandma’s toffee pudding. But unlike her pudding, now everyone will want a slice.
At first you may not want to embrace fame, but do it you must; here’s why.You may not remember, but it’s why you sacrificed the best years of your life.
While you were sat worrying about curly braces and agonising over whether to use Ruby on Rails or Python, your peers were swigging champagne in Mahiki and ogling Go-Go dancers as they celebrated selling credit derivative swaps to clueless farmers, or another (yet another) Made in Chelsea wrap party.
How times have changed – who would have thought startup founders would be the new rock stars, establishment and intelligentsia all rolled into one? Well, you did, obviously.
But, now that you have scraped the cobwebs out of your hair, brushed the manure (and the chips) off your shoulders and released the beta version of “Gotta Poke-em-all”, a VR/AR mashup with IoT functionality that is so down with the kids little Ant and Dec have already reached level seven-thousand-and-twenty-two, it’s time to face reality.
That thing you never actually thought would actually happen – has happened. Is happening. You have raised squillions from investors hungry for a slice of the next big King Digital – you are a squillionaire – and the “techerati” are hanging on your every word. Influencers and PR peeps who you never thought liked you, still don’t, but now they want to sit you down in front of 500 spotty adolescents, jealous geeks and go-to-hell wishers, and ask you how you did it.
And guess what – “I sat in a shed sweating whilst oregano sprouted between my toes and spiders chewed my underarm hair”, ain’t gonna cut it. Truth, Schmuth…”What about that time you took on Napster?” They will ask you.
“I said I frequently took naps”, you reply.
“But you went to all your meetings in a dressing gown, right, because, like, you didn’t give a sh*t?”
“I wore a dressing gown because every time I Skyped with an investor I had to run for a sh*t after.”
“Cool, cool, and you were totally ruthless right – I mean you screwed your co-founder, right?”
“I haven’t screwed anybody for a long, long time.” You reply.
“Did you know One Direction’s Niall has been snapchatting about you with Pew Die Pie”
“Who are one Direction. What is Snapchat? No more rusty Nialls. No more pie, grandma!”
“Errr…r u ok – I mean, you’re gonna be speaking in front of 500 people – how are you going to change the world – is it true you have your own foundation?”
“Yes, it’s for the bags under my eyes.”
“Have you tried tea-bagging for that?”
“Hell no! What gave you that idea? I came out of the shed, not the closet.”
“Listen, just talk about the fundraising – what did your investors say to you?”
“They told me to put more dick jokes in the game to appeal to the Lad Bible market.”
“Good advice, good advice, but not really what we’re after – have you been to the Ivy?”
“Only when I need a p*ss – it’s not doing so well now, I didn’t tell grandpa why – didn’t want to upset him. He’s cool about the manure, though.”
“Are you alright – you’re just…you just need to be a little cooler, right – a little more hip.”
“You need the same thing my grandma needs – a hip replacement guy.”
That’s enough bad jokes and pretend conversations. You see, while you have been coding, something strange has happened. All your friends and all of their friends have p*ssed all their money away, and somehow (and who the Farage knows how this has happened) we’ve pulled out of Europe, the Prime Minister’s quit, Labour are in-fighting and the Lib Dems – well, who cares, really, but the point is the world has changed and you are now the great white hope.
So it wasn’t such a bad time to hit the shed, after all. And now everyone wants to hear how you did it, how you raised the cash, how you are going to change the world; will it have unicorns in it? Will we have to wear goggles all the time? Is there life on Mars, and how good a feeling is dancing on the ceiling?
“Hang on…Ok, I get it, I get it – famous, you say? Squillionaire! this is…this is great! Ok! Let’s go! Jonathan Ross is playing it, you say? Can you get me on I’m A Celebrity? Through the (rusty) Keyhole? Wow, this is amazing! This. FEELS. GREAT!!!”
“Oh, hold on, hang on….erm – sorry I just checked my smart watch, your fifteen minutes are up.”
“Yep, it’s all blown over, it’s all about wearables now, your IPO just got cancelled – that’s precisely fifteen minutes of fame – you’re done sorry. Oh, is that the time?”
“Doesn’t your smart watch tell you the time?”
“Dunno, never tried it, never tried it. I gotta go, sorry, apparently there’s a fifteen-year-old with a YouTube show and Niall from One Direction is wearing it. See ya!”
“But Crystal….CRYSTAL!!!!….What about the panels and shows?”
The final Niall in the coffin. Back to the drawing board. In the shed. Still, at least you can programme for toffee. Pudding.
Enjoy it while it lasts and keep on hustlin’