Entrepreneurship and forging your own career path can be one of the most amazing experiences in your life…and one of the worst: professionally, personally, financially and so forth. Regardless of what happens to you, they are ALL valuable learning experiences if you can grow from them w/out being traumatized (trauma that has permanently and irrecoverably altered your mental state for the worse).

This page is to offer you resources in how to deal with some of the mental anguish and duress you may encounter while forging the “unknown” path to victory; and potentially in the minimally structured, open course format leveraged for Hands-on Rapid Prototyping.

The Good

There are so many unforgettable moments that are created in a startup journey. Because of the emotional thrill, rush and excitement associated with so many of these “comfort zone” breaking experience, the memories are richer, the feelings are greater and the good times can become a drug of sorts. You remember with candid clarity the first time you get a real customer (that’s not your mother or some other relative). You remember the time you get your first online press and watch in awe as your Google Analytics Real-time Dashboard goes nuts. You remember the moments and chills you get when your teammates clearly exude the corporate culture you’ve carefully curated and built.

The Bad

This class and entrepreneurship in general, is a scary and often times, lonely experience. The challenges can cause never-before-experienced duress and we need you to ground yourself in the reality that this is a classroom, a safe environment for learning. That being said, school is about preparing you for the real world and real-world entrepreneurship has a number of challenges that can cause significant duress and trauma. How you handle that stress and frame those experiences are the key to surviving and thriving in your entrepreneurial / intrapreneurial journey. Your perspective is key to making all of these bad scenarios either become learning moments or a traumatizing ones.

The Ugly

The allure of starting a company is rampant in Silicon Valley. People are raising ridiculous amounts of money, with ridiculous business plans and with ridiculous expectations. The essential–yet nuanced–“fake it till you make it” attitude has permeated this region to the point that it’s led to a terrible number of trends and outcomes that are saddening for people who truly want to bring something great into the world.

Because the story of entrepreneurship has become so sexy and grossly overhyped in social media and press, it has attracted a subset of people who are in the game for the wrong reasons. Everyone wants a hero, but anyone can put on a cape and do nothing heroic. Entrepreneurs are put on pedestals, some deservingly and other not so much but the press loves the stories they can generate about money raised, radical growth achieved and debacles / scandals that unfold. Remember, these folks need eyeballs on their respective articles and how they make money–advertising. Yet, it creates a vicious cycle of greed, egotism and privilege that has tainted the true nature of entrepreneurship. For the same reasons Donald Trump is the President of the United States, we have founders like Elizabeth Holmes (Theranos), Zenefits debauchery, and more.

In the classroom

In the Hands-on Rapid Prototyping class, we push and encourage bootstrapping as it strips a lot of this unnecessary focus on outward appearance, creating pretty powerpoint decks and overall, stroking the egos of people with lots of money. Rather, it unites folks eager to hustle, find the depths of their creativity and help elucidate the real and major challenges of creating a business from scratch. It also quickly filters out those who are passionate / obsessed from those who like the allure of the startup game.

We obviously see value in the venture capital community, but the dynamic in 2019 is flawed and it’s very hard on both sides to find truly genuine entrepreneurs and to couple them with genuine investors who actually care about the founders they invest in…and are not just a mule for another cash investment. If you truly align with the spirit of bootstrapping and entrepreneurship, we’d love to meet you and have you engage with our best student talent during DemoDay.

Mental Health Resources

  1. Reboot Podcast – Podcast focused on the ups and downs, and mental health of founders who engage in the startup life. https://www.reboot.io/podcast/
  2. Counseling for U.C. Berkeley Students – https://uhs.berkeley.edu/counseling
  3. Mental Health for U.C. Berkeley Students – https://uhs.berkeley.edu/health-topics/mental-health