Nobody Cares About Your Startup

I had to give a pitch yesterday.  I was invited at the last-minute, and it was hosted at a rambunctious venue, so I expected things to be haphazard.  I was scheduled to deliver a 2-minute pitch; then it was cut to 60-seconds.  The event was at a bar, so the audience was tipsy and mostly inattentive.  It’s a scene I’ve witnessed several times in the startup community.  Some poor sap steps on stage and tries desperately to woo a crowd who couldn’t care less, only this time I was the poor sap.  I was scheduled to go on last, and as other speakers poured their hearts and souls, I noticed the crowd growing less and less interested.  Let's just say it wasn't my favorite public speaking experience, but it highlights something we often forget.  Nobody cares about your startup.  

Look I’m sure your new company is lovely.  You’re going to, “change the world,” but understand that no one loves your baby the way that you do.  Your friends may encourage you, but they don’t spend much time thinking about your pet project.  Even your loyal customers, they aren’t staying up late thinking about your product iteration, and you know what?  That’s just fine!  What happened at that event wasn’t the organizer’s fault.  They fell victim to the same aspect of human psychology that many of us do.  They assumed that other people shared their excitement for the project.  

I get it.  I get it.  You’re trying to hustle.  You know that people don’t care as much as you do, but that’s why you’re always talking about it!  Here’s the thing, if you’re product was so earth-shattering, wouldn’t other people already be talking about it?  Being your own hype man not only makes your company look shabby, but you run the risk of believing your hype.  Being blinded by ego is a business’ kryptonite.  It causes you to ignore market feedback.  If you’re the only one talking about your business for too long, you won’t have a business to speak of.  Focus less on talking about your work and more on working.  

“But what should I do during networking events?” Good question!  Start conversations about shit people want to hear about!  If someone’s genuinely interested in your product, have at it!  But the second you notice they’ve stopped asking questions about your project, stop talking about it.  Nothing kills a conversation faster than a jackass yammering on about himself.  Try asking the other person about their interests.  Maybe you have something in common.  They’re far more likely to remember you because you both enjoy horseback riding than because you droned on about iterating on your newest app feature.