How to deal with feeling like a fake while pitching an idea?

I’ve worked at many failed startups as a contract coder. They blow through millions of dollars and then fold.

Now I’m pitching my idea that will be ‘the next big thing’ and I wonder if I’m just the next thief to steal investor money.

I’ve seen so many others fail that I wonder if I’m about to become the very thing I hate.

How can someone with morals pitch “Vaporware”.


  • If you’re feeling like a fake then you (a) need to start asking people if what you’re pitching is something they would actually use and (b) lack both vision and belief to execute. The investors you’re pitching will quickly tell you something similar.

  • Welcome to the other side. You obviously view the world as an “us” versus “them” with coders as the clearly superior and enlightened beings. Those people running the startups that blew through millions? … those thieves? … they probably aren’t what you make them out to be. Very few people in the world are out to deliberately dupe others out of their hard earned cash. And you act as though investors are so easily conned out of their money … very few got that money by being stupid.

    So grow up. You aren’t the smartest person in every room blessed by your entrance. Your just another one of the people out there trying to make money off a clever idea but who similarly lacks the exact road map to get there.

    As a starting point, follow the first comment’s advice. Follow the lean method enough to be able to firmly believe you’ve got something that people actually want. And then get off your high effing horse and develop some vision and execution strategy.

    After that, you’ll simply have to face the reality that you might be the next big failure. Nobody ever got anywhere waiting for a guaranteed success.

    • AMEN.

      Here’s to hoping that OP even has a team (designer, marketer/salesperson, etc) to actually market and sell the product for him, because a bunch of code without an effective user interface is not yet a product and a product sitting on your shelf instead of the user’s hands is a whole lotta nuthin’. ..And ain’t nobody got time for dat.

  • If you were working on a contract basis, why would you even care if the startup failed? Like… you have no real skin in the game, you just have to get another job. The realities are that you probably knew less than 1% of what was happening in the company as you were just a hired gun, no reason to give you high level details and information. We all know the crazy statistics when it comes to succeeding with a startup, so why would you consider these people thieves when the variance to even mediocre success is so high?

    • I’m not the OP, but I know exactly where he’s coming from. I don’t think it’s outright thievery in the case I’m in–after all, if we fold, all of our code and workproduct cedes over to the conglomerate that funds us. It’s just that we’re incompetent and can’t recognize it. This is the second flim-flam startup in a row I’ve worked for.

      The problem I’ve got is how fucking pretentious startups are about how awesome they are. If I read about “change the world” or “revolutionize” or “social” or “disrupt” again–let’s face it, folks, in ten years we’re going to look like 1980s Business Guy does today. Mike Judge has already started making fun of us.

      The thing is that a few million dollars is pocket change to VCs. Almost all businesses are only good at disrupting their revolutionary lack of profits and fail in the first few years–startups just have some life support. But there’s so much money in the financial sector looking for hot places to go that you’d be crazy not to take it.

  • In reply to all:

    why would you even care if the startup failed?

    Because I do have morals. In some startups I worked at, it was clear the owners didn’t as they lied to investors, employees, customers, etc.

    lack both vision and belief to execute.

    It sounds like you don’t believe in your idea.

    I fully believe in my idea. I guess I doubt myself and I doubt my projections, time frames and budgeting. I don’t doubt the idea.

    And you act as though investors are so easily conned out of their money … very few got that money by being stupid.

    Thanks. That honestly helps a lot. It’s their own fault if they believe me. πŸ™‚ They should know even better than I do if I’m right or not.

    hoping that OP even has a team (designer, marketer/salesperson, etc)

    No. None. It’s a lonely world us anti-social engineers live in. πŸ™‚ Prior to funding, everyone wants a big slice of the pie unless there is cash. I understand that because I’m the same way.

    The project is like ObamaCare ONLY in the sense that the failure won’t go unnoticed, many will suffer and the time frame is fixed. Oh, and it is a government contract.

    But that’s their fault for believing me, right? I like shared guilt. πŸ™‚

    I just read an article on this forum “7 ways I’ve almost killed FreshBooks”:

    https://startupsanonymous.com/story/7-ways-ive-almost-killed-freshbooks/

    I think a light came on when I read his last point:

    7. Doubting ourselves too much

    Thanks for your honest comments.

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