Act II

I caught up with an early-stage founder considering his company’s next steps. The runway is shrinking. He’s pursuing several paths, including raising more capital or selling the company. The market isn’t as big as he initially thought, and the business doesn’t have the potential to become a nine- or ten-figure company. He’s accepted that fact and doesn’t want to pursue an option that requires a nine- or ten-figure exit for success.

The probabilities are low that this founder’s current company will get him the type of exit he hoped for when he started the company. He feels he has a lot left in the tank and wants to use that energy on something high return.

This founder is an entrepreneur at heart. He has the drive and intelligence to build something amazing. Unfortunately, the market for his first business is smaller than he and his investors envisioned. He also happened to raise capital in the 2020–2022 window when valuations were inflated. These and other dynamics have taught him painful but valuable lessons that he’ll carry forward.

This founder is part of a group of founders who, I think, will experience pain with their pandemic-era companies but go on to have wildly successful second acts. They may not realize it, but the things they’re learning and the relationships they’re building now will be immensely valuable and contribute significantly to their future success.