Take a Risk and Salute Failure


A funny thing happened at the office the other day.

Actually, I should say that a funny thing happened after the funny thing that happened at the office.

We’ve been doing a bit of spring cleaning, sprucing things up a bit. As a matter of fact, we’re in the middle of a remodel of the SpringBox Labs accelerator, but more about that on another day.

One of the items we’ve added is a big chalkboard in the front of the office to post news and celebrate the accomplishments of ENTREPRENEURS. Having a chalkboard predominantly featured in the lobby is a little outside the box.

But we like the idea that as things change and evolve—which they do from minute to minute in a business like ours, dealing with so many ENTREPRENEURS—we can erase the old news on the chalkboard and refresh it with the latest buzz.

So we searched around town and found a terrific chalkboard artist who proceeded to fill our chalkboard up in a very artistic way. The end result is out of the box…and terrific. Everyone loves it.

And, as so often happens in entrepreneurship, there was one small kink.

The word ENTREPRENEUR in our first chalkboard display was misspelled.

We recognized this immediately; the artist came back in that evening and corrected it.

However, that was a day that we had more than 400 visitors in our building. For those who noticed, we had a good laugh together. It was a great icebreaker with folks we didn’t know.

Here’s the funny thing that happened after the funny thing.

Someone from the entrepreneurial community snapped a picture of the misspelled word, and an email began to circulate around town. I heard about it from customers and board members, but the funny thing is that my email address was never included.

There was some point to the email—a different kind of humor from a misspelled word.

And you know that reminded me what I love so much about ENTREPRENEURS and taking risk. The entrepreneurial spirit celebrates all kinds of risk—it’s relatively small, like putting up a chalkboard to celebrate the community instead of office art or as great as starting your own business as opposed to working for others.

True ENTREPRENEURS have their priorities straight. They are out there solving problems in the face of great odds, doubt, and obstacles.

I’ve been a seed stage investor now for nearly 20 years and invested in more than 200 companies. I’ve seen a great deal of risk, terrific failures, and some amazing successes. The ENTREPRENEURS that have always impressed me are the ones that experienced failure, were open about the failure, learned from it, and moved forward.

Great entrepreneur ecosystems salute failure, embrace new ideas, and take risks. Without waves there are no surfers. So, here’s to making waves and saluting failure. Bring on the SURFERS…I mean……the ENTREPRENEURS.