Founder’s Journey — the Monomyth of VC
We had an interesting dialogue the other day with my friend Boris Gorodnichin about the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything. In contrast to coming into contact with a different worldview, I crystallized an understanding of my model of knowing the world. This applies to the business world as well.
It took me a long time to figure out why I didn’t particularly care for all the spiritual practices and doctrines that lead to getting to know oneself. Why I feel uncomfortable in a Bali sort of hangout, and why I feel great in a crazy urban crowd. It’s clear now.
I simply experience the world through the works of art and artifacts, rather than directly passing the world through itself. That is, I’m not trying to understand the authors’ thoughts in the process of creating a business or a painting, but I’m already trying to understand what they have brought into that world.
In practice, it applies roughly like this. I look at a deliverable or piece of work, not as part of the business mechanics, but as the author’s work. It just so happens that a person wants to leave a piece of themself in everything they creates, consciously or not. It turns out that the strengths or weaknesses of the work result from the author’s ability or inability to express themself and fight their fears.
This is also how the hero’s journey in a startup is created, in my opinion. Directly we can go by the pattern:
1. Living an ordinary life — living their life, drinking a smoothie on their break, coding or talking to clients.
2. A call to adventure — a plot twist and the beginning of a founder’s journey. No longer able to self-actualize in a corporation, or bored with it. The birth of an idea. They see people’s pain and don’t see the obstacles.
3. Supernatural aid — someone at FFF believed in our hero, work on the project went on.
4. Threshold (beginning of transformation) — transition from the known world to a new world. The first pitching session or creation of a legal entity. Here it is not particularly important that it is actually in the form of an action. What is important is that it is a point of transition or a turning point for the founder themself.
5. Challenges and temptations — a gradual way to the first sales, the struggle with competitors and with themselves. The first employees and the first breakups.
6. The abyss of death and rebirth — gradually our founder comes to the main challenge for themself (at this stage of the project) and fails. Loses a co-founder, key employees or an investor.
7. Transformation — the founder makes a pivot, despite the fact that it is very difficult to get rid of their ideas about the world.
8. Atonement — system sales begin, good traction and the founder fights off opportunities rather than challenges.
9. Gift of the gods — project gets a new round or an exit happens.
10. Return — the founder gets new experience and skills, it helps them change their approach to running their current business, or make an exit.
Next, we have a spinoff, or the start of a whole franchise. It could be the same project, but at different stages. Or a new project, but with different challenges.