After the Launch [Founder Fiction]

Founder Fiction is a new series I have created to express common experiences, thoughts and feelings I discuss with founders using fictional characters and situations that blend my own experiences with stories from others.

Robert Peterson placed his drink on the slate counter of the bathroom and leaned his forehead against the cool mirrored glass. It was done. After more than year spent hustling together investors, several more months rallying a team to build beyond the original prototype, and a summer spent in Y Combinator getting ready to launch and raise again, he had done it. Today the world had learned about his company, splashed across the pages of the trade and business magazines read by millions, and he knew he should feel satisfied.

Closing his eyes, the word “should” hung in his mind. So many things he should feel. Like a success, like a winner, like a fucking golden god if his friends drinking in the next room were to be believed. He did feel something, a kind of quiet pride — but it was more like a smooth stone that had settled in the base of his stomach. There was extra gravity there, a weight, maybe even a bit of dread. In all, it was far less exciting than everyone had lead him to expect and while others celebrated all he really wanted to do was go home and sleep for 24 hours straight. Then he would get back to running the company.

Laughter spilled over from the next room, and he knew he’d have to get back soon, before his cofounder came looking for him. He stepped into a stall and unbuttoned his fly, wanting to prolong the solitude a little bit longer as his mind wandered to the events of the day. The stories had broken at nine in the morning just as they had planned, and the site was inundated with traffic. Then the calls, emails, and texts had started coming in.

His parents emailed proudly, with a link to the New York Time’s story. His sister had joked he better get her something really nice for Christmas. He’d texted his old boss to tell him how grateful he was for everything and gotten a smiley face back. His girlfriend, who he’d met just a few months ago, squeeled with delight as she told him her office mates were jealous that she was dating a millionaire. She’d hinted pretty blatantly about a ring too, so that was probably another he’d have to deal with after getting 24 hours of straight sleep.

“Hey Robert!” a voice called from the doorway, jolting him from his reverie. “You okay man?”

Swinging open the door he ran a hand through his hair and smiled sheepishly at Raf Bell, his favorite angel investor. “Yeah sorry, just not feeling very social I guess” he shrugged.

Raf smiled knowingly and bent down his salt and pepper head to examine the glass on the counter. Sniffing the contents and discovering it was only soda with lime, he looked back at Robert. “Zip up your fly Rob, I think I should drive you home.”

They ambled through the big open house, Robert nodding and smiling shyly and Raf shaking hands graciously as he went. “Just taking a little drive,” he said, “Thanks so much for coming.” They climbed into the perfectly maintained white Porsche 911, which was probably about 7 years old, and headed down the 280 toward the city in silence. The car hummed, and with the top down it was impossible to speak or hear anything, so they rode together in roaring silence.

Photo Credit: jcoterhals on Flickr

Would you like to read more startup fiction? Let me know in the comments.

  • Nice!

  • I remember that day very well. The strange reluctance that comes with accomplishing everything you have ever dreamed of.

  • most people celebrate a launch like it’s the finish line.

    few realize it’s only the starting gun being fired… and now all the really hard work begins.

    and, all the anxiety & doubt.

    DMC

  • Good stuff Danielle. I love the new series. So many founders can benefit from the stories of others and adding the fictional character spin is a great way to share it. Keep ’em coming!

  • If this startup thing doesn’t workout, you sure have a future in writing novels. 🙂

  • While I didn’t found a silicon valley style VC startup, certainly you’ve captured how I frequently feel. The only fiction was the end, no one generally gives you that kind of sympathy. I totally hope you keep this up.

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