Startups are not toys, jewelry, or accessories

TIA Ventures
2 min readJun 1, 2021

Sorry to break the news, but most people can’t start a company that succeeds. Just like most people can’t play in the French Open or on the Lakers or perform at the Olympics. It’s just that in sport the physical limitations are more immediately obvious.

Mainstream media would lead you to think that startups are:

  • fun
  • cool
  • playful
  • impressive to talk about
  • doable
  • easy
  • something everyone should say they’re doing
  • ‘if she can do it I can do it’ kind of things
  • jewelry or accessories
  • side hustles till something works out and you can quit your job to really focus on
  • easy to get into
  • career creators
  • ‘no boss’, ‘control my time’ options
  • easy to follow activities with an instruction manual


If you’ve hung around long enough in this game, and witnessed a unicorn or two, a lot of zombies and a ton of deaths and fizzle outs, it should be obvious that endeavoring to start a new high-growth companies is:

  • one of the hardest challenges in life
  • competition in the most ferociously competitive environments on the planet
  • a long game, despite how a recent IPO looks in the the NYT, Crunchbase or your social media feed
  • a highly stressful balancing act with customers, employees, investors, board members, family, friends, and more
  • a highest-stakes activity with $Ms of other people’s hard-earned capital on the line
  • regular self-doubt and second-guessing
  • setback after setback, a punch in the gut, getting the wind knocked out of you…repeatedly
  • living in fear that someone you don’t know about has better talent, more funding, and is more clever, and has more luck
  • moving at breakneck speed and trying to keep everything on the tracks
  • making your life your work
  • for a very small group of incredible talented individuals to take on

Don’t ‘start a startup’ because it’s something to do or sounds cool. You’re wasting everyone’s time — especially yours — and money, likely not yours.

Start a company because you are:

  • intensely passionate about solving a problem
  • imperviously resilient
  • an obsessively hard worker
  • open to/embracing of coaching and constant learning that will improve your performance
  • boundlessly creative
  • able to withstand intense pressure and stress
  • great at listening and looking through other peoples’ eyes
  • a saver who is willing to risk it all
  • and understand that the opinion that’s most critical to your success is not your own, but your customer’s.
  • the person that people follow

If this isn’t you, don’t despair. Far better to know that before you go all-in. And, besides, while you may not be right to start and lead the next unicorn, there is no reason you can’t join one.

-Wills Hapworth | TIA Ventures



TIA Ventures

TIA Ventures is a seed-stage venture capital fund that partners with companies building emotional and visceral connections with their consumers.