Axel Delafosse
Axel Delafosse
Mon Jan 11 2021

Products die, relationships last

Heard this quote from Ashton Kutcher during a YC alumni Q&A.

Your products can die, your startups can fail... but your relationships should last.

I. Products die

Everybody knows that products die everyday -- so let's stay positive.

I wish I had heard more often that it's OK to fail. It's important to be resilient and keep going but sometimes if it just doesn't feel right, you don't have to persist. I pivoted 3 times with Pool and it soon became clear that I couldn't continue, but I'll keep this for another post. It's OK to stop and accept the failure.

"Even if you aren't giving up long term, don't be afraid to withdraw and reassess. Win the way you want to win, not the way you feel you're obligated to." — Alexander Mistakidis

II. Relationships last

If your products die, it's alright. But relationships must be taken care of!

Be earnest and honest. It's OK to ask for help. Don't fear your investors, they're here to help.

I learned this the first time I had to shut down my company.

We woke up one day and we had no access to the data we were using to run our business. That was a strange feeling. And it obviously meant a strange reaction. We didn't know what to do. Our investors were really helpful and one of them, Jean de La Rochebrochard, introduced us to Phil Hutcheon, the CEO of DICE -- where Raph and I went on to work at. Henry went on to work at Shotgun, another player in the live music events discovery and ticketing. Why? Because we didn't take care of our co-founder relationships. We could have been hired together and personally I wanted this a lot!

But my two co-founders couldn't work together anymore. I wasn't the bridge between them that I used to be. To be honest it was really painful to see a friend go do something else and we ended up not talking to each other. Even during bad times, keep your head up. Treat your co-founders well. Make sure to respect and admire each other. Listen to each other. Fortunately now we talk again and laugh about this situation. I can't wait to work together again.

Later on, after a weekend with another investor and friend, Damien Morin, I ended up working at his new startup Mobile Club.

The second and last time I had to shut down my company was three weeks ago. I was a solo founder so it was an easier decision to make. But I had joined the startup accelerator Hook from 42 where I took part in the W20 batch. I was surrounded by ambitious founders and met some friends. I don't want to lose touch with them!

Now I understand these relationships are precious -- and probably even more precious than the best startup idea out there. I'll make sure to nurture these relationships.

Thanks to Léna Deloizy, Alexander Mistakidis and Henry Fontanier for reading drafts of this.