small step for the season, big win for next year


scratched from a too long 11 page quarterly update and segmented here for ease of read in v6.2 on substack.

in my last startup, culinary ai labs, we were eating our r+d costs for breakfast.

they didn't taste good nor did it make sense.

we over built a product with no clear economic incentive and under sold how to solve problems for customers.

alongside visa issues for an international co-founder in the 2017 political climate, our burn was too high. i mixed my personal financial runway into that of the path of the startup. with student debt and not enough savings for clear cost of living, i took on extra financial risk that didn't help.

the best advice i got from a founder friend at that time was: 'you like to work on hard things. that's okay. but don't make the hard things harder on yourself." personal financial runway mixing into that of the startup was making the hard things harder.

from that, i've inverted that advice to ask myself on how can i make the hard things easier?

bootstrapping this next startup is hard. i know one way to make it easier is seperate personal runway from that of the startup. i want to run experiments with the right constriants and not make the wrong compromises on timing.

and so, this quarter, i set up side hustles for ceo coaching and one consulting gig that is very flexible and part time. it pays my bills through the next 12 months, and more importantly, i have more than a full time schedule to build.

it's a small win, as this is the first time i get to truly build on a longer time horizon without worrying about pressure to raise as a function of personal finance.

it frees up the next 12 months (on repeat, as im playing infinite games!), as i want to work through iterations of founder dojo to truly learn how to best support climate tech founders.

i'm also not making the same mistake as in my last startup, where economic incentives were unclear. i'm currently testing different assumptions for what model is aligned for founders.

and reflecting back on culinary ai labs, i still hold the thought that if we had more time, we could figure it out. paul graham talks about mantaining a low burn by continuing to live simply, like a grad student.

and having talked with dozens of more founders, there is a shared belief that those that succeed are those that are able to be around the longest. in this funding landscape, sarah guo covers a good guide on the hard reset in what it means to extend runway when you build a machine to do nothing but grow.

and so here's to having more time to build.

if you liked this, have feedback, or more resources to share, send me a note.

made with 🖤 in sf.