Before I get into this post I’m fully aware that I’m treading into cliche territory. I’m certainly not the first person to write a blog post comparing startups and surfing and I concede my lack of originality here. That said, I’m going to do it anyway
If you live in Northern California there’s a good chance you work at a startup, at least the odds are probably higher than the national average. There’s also a good chance that you surf, that’s just what we do here. You may even be one of those fortunate people like myself that do both. If so, you’ve likely drawn your own comparisons between the two. Either way I’m pretty sure you’ll join me in stating that both are awesome. So here’s my attempt to articulate that awesomeness via a series of comparison.
When you’re trying to stand up on a wave it doesn’t take you very long to find out if things are going to work out. Sometimes you don’t even catch the wave, other times you catch it, standup and end up going face first into ocean. Those waves suck and you find that out really quick. With startups failing fast is something you want to do. If your business isn’t going to work out you’d like your proverbial face to hit ocean before you’ve sunk tons of cash and time into it.
Competition for a wave can be brutal. A common misconception people have about surfers is that they’re mellow and laid back. Just not true. If you get in between a surfer and their wave you might just end up getting shanked in the parking lot. Ok, so shanking’s a bit extreme but they’ll probably throw a couple of f-bombs your way. Another excuse for a shanking? Try getting between a big company and their profits. Actually making money as an early stage startup is tough! You’ve just gotten into the game and the other guys are bigger and have more resources. In both cases though competition is an excuse to kick more ass and get better. Over time you will catch more waves and hopefully your startup will also make money.
The drop is awesome. It’s the moment a surfer hops up on their board, stares down the wave and drops over the edge. It’s exhilarating and addictive. It’s also the point of no return. Once you’re up on your board heading down a wave you can’t bail out without getting pummeled. When you join a startup there’s always a point of no return. For some, the drop might be the moment they decide to leave their stable, higher paying job to join a company that might not even be around in a year. Speaking strictly from my own experience this was one of the most exciting times of my life.
Working at a startup has been a ridiculous thrill. Every day there’s something new: a new feature pushed, app going live in the app store, a new website, a new employee. The list could literally go on and on. It’s like catching the drop off of a wave. You’re going so fast you think you might fall right off the board, and sometimes you do. But sometimes you don’t and it’s freakin’ awesome!