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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Kraft

Empty Hero - Mental Health for Startup Founders

The SVB collapse has put the spotlight on mental health for startups. We support the cause (see details below), and I would like to share Julia's story to give you an idea of the founders' reality.

Julia runs a fast-growing platform startup on the West Coast. We have been working together for several years. Now she is at the tail end of a fundraising cycle, and despite all the drama around VC winter and SVB, she got her company funded.

Victory Week?

What could have been a great victory week pushed her into emptiness and exhaustion. What has happened? When her investors wired the funds, SVB collapsed, and she was stranded. She had great news to share, and still no cash in the bank.

In her "get shit done" mentality, she organized new bank accounts and secured temporary cash for her employees. All while helping to sort out some technical platform challenges and closing a series of important deals.

Yet, all that activity added more to her fatigue. In our weekly coaching session, she was unusually quiet, with her eyes staring into the far distance. While her team sees her as the ultimate startup hero, she feels empty.

Mental Health is a critical aspect of (startup) life!

Mental health is not an event that may hit you or not. It is a critical aspect of startup life and requires our attention.The last few days have been unique in that everybody, even outside the startup community, got a glimpse into the daily reality of founders. While some observers ("I told you so …") focused on the "event", for most founders, it was just another day in the startup world. Or as Brad Feld summarized: "Something New Is Fucked Up In My World Every Day."

Take the Pledge

Brad introduced me to the Founder Mental Health Pledge for Investors and Startup Leaders. I am supporting it personally, as do the teams of Moinland and the AI Incubator HTI.

"We make a commitment to take an active role in encouraging mental healthcare for founders and the greater startup community. We pledge to encourage the founders we partner with to invest in their personal mental health and build a workplace culture that promotes mental health. Ensuring the mental health of founders and their teams is crucial and leads to the highest probability of startup success. We pledge to be supportive of founders treating the direct cost of caring for their mental health as a legitimate, worthwhile, and encouraged business expense – including therapy, coaching, group support, and app-based solutions. Founders should look at their mental health as a business priority."

Get Support

Julia is fortunate to have investors supporting her mental health, investing in coaching, and making mental support part of her development. If this is not the case for you, use the Founder Pledge to raise your investors' awareness and allow them to be part of the solution. DM me anytime for support!

Take Action: Sign the Founder Mental Health Pledge

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