The Mother of all Post Mortems

There are a lot of bad, unproductive and even harmful trends emerging out of this latest wave of startups. But a few trends have emerged that are inspiring and additive to the overall startup landscape. One such trend is the emergence of startup post mortems.

A company we had the opportunity to back has finally published the most recent addition to this growing body of work- and it’s a doozy. Termsheets, investor presentations, company financials, growth metrics and a candid first person account of life behind the wheel of a startup for one first time entrepreneur:

Running a startup is a crazy range of affairs to manage: the unceasing search for engineers, customers having weird issues with common computer setups, investor relations, the mood and productivity of the folks who gave up other opportunities to join our cause, the amount of cash in our bank account, our landlord refusing to install heaters so employees are buying USB-powered heating mittens, state-by-state tax and liability law, we’re not paying ourselves much and we’re eating out constantly and we’re paying rent to live close to the office in one of the world’s most expensive cities so personal money is tight, someone else just raised 3x as much money as we did to do the same thing with a larger team. And OMG the entire world economy is cratering!

Gamelayers as a company or as an investment didn’t work out. I’ve had the opportunity to bump into many on that founding team over recent months. Some are working as independent contractors, some have joined other startups and some are working at large companies. All seem to have been indelibly been shaped by their startup experience at Gamelayers. And so have I.

It was through working with Gamelayers that I became interested in the idea of layering game mechanics and incentives on top of every day activities. Apparently I wasn’t the only one. In a recent post, Dennis lists PMOG as one of his inspirations. It’s no coincidence that we closed our investment in Foursquare around the same time we wound down our investment in Gamelayers.

Every entrepreneur and investor takes something different away from shutting down a company. I’m glad to see more people are choosing transparency and dialoge to share unfiltered experiences and extract lessons to be learned. The startup ecosystem is better off as a result.