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When your startup turns one year older
Take a pause
The days are long, but the years are short — Alloy turns 4 today.
I feel lucky. Building a company, besides being an opportunity to create outsized value in this world, also happens to be one of the best vehicles for personal growth. I consider the market, my teammates, my investors, and the countless other people I’ve met along the way as mentors in this journey.
As I look back over the blurry years, I can make out a few themes and feelings that stand out from each chapter:
Year 1 - Long nights, grinding, living monastically. Company building distilled down to its purest form is really just willing something into existence.
Year 2 - Early team members join and hit their cliffs. The heart of the company is no longer solely with the founders; the company develops a soul of its own. It’s possible to sit back and marvel at this thing that can now run independently. There’s time to take a weekend off finally.
Year 3 - A new product line, real sales, more go-to-market experiments, real board meetings. The team grows, the bureaucracy we long rejected threatens to creep in.
Year 4 - Refocus, make even harder decisions, deal with growing pains, get humbled again. Feel a renewed sense of urgency to build, expand, and never settle.
These are the sorts of images that run through my head when I try to remember it all. Even though I’ve never subscribed to four-year social constructs (ie graduations), four years is a milestone nonetheless. Perhaps you’re also nearing an important anniversary soon. If nothing else, these markers of time are gentle reminders for us, as impatient founders, to take pause and to reflect.
Tonight I’ll be getting dinner with my cofounder and one of our first employees. We’ll have some wine, reminisce on the early days, and let the restaurant know it’s somebody’s birthday (why not allow ourselves some free cake?). I hope that when we blow out the candles we’ll finally feel the completeness of four years — the highs, the lows, the weight, the enormity, all of it.