The startup stories we often read are about massive exits and wealth. They're about David Karp selling Tumblr for $1.1 billion or Kevin Systrom selling Instagram to Facebook.
Those stories are not reality. Startups are lotteries and few founders hold the winning ticket. Most spend years slaving away over a companies that will never go anywhere.
How tough are startups really? Dave Mcclure of 500Startups painted a pretty good picture a few months back, after a friend of his committed suicide.
"Oh Jesus, [founding a company] can suck," McClure told Business Insider then. He recalled facing extremely "dark days" as an entrepreneur. He went through layoffs, co-founder battles, and wife battles, and not for much gain.
"It was a hell of a lot of work for not a hell of a lot of return," he said. "And then there are days when you sit in a corner and cry. You can't really do anything else. You don't have a social life. You don't really want to interact with family and friends because there's just not much context for them. Your world revolves around your startup and it's all about trying to survive and not look like an idiot in front of employees."
McClure realized the stress entrepreneurs go through is often self-inflicted. They could be working 9-to-5 jobs like most of their friends.
"There's still recognition that it's a set of first-world problems that don't get to the level of war, starvation, or something like that," he said. "But when your whole world is about trying to show everyone else you're successful and hold it together, and maintaining that psychic dissonance of externally everything is going great while the internal side you're freaking out and trying to make payroll ... it gets fucking stressful."
More From Business Insider