I’ve been thinking about the term “startup junkie” and I can’t quite figure it out. “Junkie,” indicates some kind of addiction but, unlike heroin or meth, “startups” aren’t a clearly defined drug that you buy on the corner. In fact, if you really think about it, startups aren’t really a definable thing at all but more like a messy, unpredictable process. Are these people really addicted to uncertain processes and outcomes, or is it something else? I’m willing to bet that the vast majority of people who call themselves startup junkies are actually addicted to something other than the difficult task of starting and growing a profitable business. Here are a few thoughts on what they’re really smoking.
Titles: In what other field do people actually believe you’re a CEO just because you printed business cards that say “stealth mode CEO?” There are definitely some “title junkies” out there.
Conferences: I’m not sure when conferences transformed from being excruciatingly boring trade shows into being giant social party events that people attend for fun, but there’s no question there are a whole bunch of conference junkies.
Bootstrapping: Pretty sure nobody is addicted being poor and eating ramen so this should probably be taken off the list.
Freewheeling culture: I suspect some of these people are addicted to the freewheeling culture of startups. This is a legitimate thing to be drawn to, but it doesn’t really make you a startup junkie, just somebody who has a problem following rules.
Meaningful work: I’ve written before about the idea that many people become entrepreneurs as a way of seeking out meaningful work, but so many of the self-proclaimed startup junkies launch things such as underwear mailing companies that can’t possibly be considered meaningful. Meaningful work junkies? Maybe.