Prelaunch and already panicked

I didn’t know where else to put this brain dump, so I figured SA was a good place to start getting it all out.

I had an idea for a startup almost a year ago, and spoke to a co-founder about it who was really enthusiastic. We are both non-technical (mistake #1), so we were put in touch with a consultant (mistake #2) who connected us to a development team that started building (without any customer dev, testing, etc.; mistake #3). My co-founder and I borrowed $250,000 from my family to get this thing off the ground, and it was only 6 or so months in that I realized how backwards we had gone about things. Got rid of the consultant, but we were already so far into development that I didn’t see the sense in scrapping it all. We’re almost finished development of our MVP now, but we’ve spent almost 200 grand and have nothing to show for it other than this concept of something people might not want.

My family is, fortunately, well off, and told me not to worry about the money if we’re unable to pay it back because they knew what they were getting into, but the guilt of likely wasting this money on a very expensive lesson in entrepreneurship is killing me and weighing on me 24 hours a day.

I left my job last year to focus on this startup full time, and my wife is now our only breadwinner. She’s supportive, but I know this uncertainty is driving her crazy, and while we’re emotionally supportive of each other, we are completely physically distant from each other. I’m sure at least part of that is from feeling disgusted with myself for dragging all of these people down this path.

The worst part is, we haven’t even launched yet and I feel like my negativity is dooming it to failure before it even has a chance.

I’m sure some people would look at my situation and see a brat complaining, and maybe they’re right. But I don’t know how long I can be okay with feeling this way all the time.

  • I don’t know why it took almost $200K to build an MVP. Now, the stakes of failure are much higher as a result.

    You should have just spent a year or two learning how to program and then build the product yourself; that would have saved you a ton of money and you would have been able to pivot to another idea if the initial product was not successful.

    Now, all your hopes are tied to this unproven product, and if it doesn’t pan out then you have no technical skills so you either spend another $200K building a new product, or you call it quits.

    Your story is the perfect reason why investors insist on funding only companies where at least one founder has technical skills.

  • First: Calm the fvçk down. No use crying over spilt milk.

    2nd: You’ve learnt a lot, which is good, and luckily for you, your family can writedown your debt. Now take a short break (alone or with your wife) to re-focus. Either way, start working on getting close to your wife again in parallel.

    3rd: Make the conscious decision to focus on marketing and launching your MVP. go all in, see what happens and push/pivot as needed.

    4th: Fix your relationship with your wife ASAP. I’m sure you don’t want to risk not having her by your side during the really dark hours.

    5th: Quit hyperventilating and think of some of others with various issues, including not know where they’ll be and if they can afford to live next month.

  • You need to seriously focus on what you’re launching and get rid of all the unnecessary things – get something out. After that, call me I could use $50k of that 🙂

  • Launch, launch, launch. Don’t wait, now.

    And as others have said, you could’ve validated your idea for free/cheaply.

  • This is pretty much what happens when people have so much money at their disposal. Instead of being resourceful and creative to find solutions to problems, you throw a few hundred grand and think that’s the answer. Sorry to be negative, but went about this the wrong way. The only thing you can do is launch asap and whatever happens, take it as a learning lesson

  • 1)

    First of all don’t worry.

    Everything will be fine.

    You are healthy.

    You have a wife and family that supprt you.

    You haven’t killed anyone.

    Don’t lose perspective on the things that are really important to you.


    See the positive. You have learned how not to do it.

    See the 200k investment as an expensive MBA.

    You’ve been dealt a crash course in entrepreneurship.

    This hurts, but entrepreneurship is a lesson in eating humble pie – mostly every day. It is a lesson you will probably never forget.


    At the end of your MBA you still hold something in your hand. Your MVP.

    Many companies fail without ever completing even a working MVP. If you manage to at least launch a product you have gone some of the way. You still have the chance to find out whether there is a need for your product.


    Try to launch your product reasonably quickly, without getting hectic.

    Negotiate with your developers. If you’ve already paid them close to 200k, they should offer you a couple of days for free – to get your product out the door.


    Most importantly. Don’t feel like a failure. Entrepreneurship is a rough voyage. The ocean has eaten many good men and women – you wouldn’t be the first. You are actually meant to feel scared at this stage. Everything else wouldn’t be normal.

    And you still have the chance of turning this thing around. Try to look at it from a distance. What is your chance of still getting this thing of the ground?

    Try to get your cost base as close to zero as you can and then launch and take it from there!

  • 1) Spend the last 50K on the launch, but wisely. Your family doesn’t care if they don’t get back 250 or 200, but for you, the 50 can make all the difference.

    2) Set yourself a hard milestone with measurable and achievable results. After that, and if no pivot is in sight, either join someone else through your network or polish your resume to get a job.

    3) Do not throw addtl years of your time into a zombie startup if you don’t meet the milestone. These years will never come back.

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