“There is magic in the trying and learning and trying again.. but any unprocessed PTSD will come back to haunt you”
Avni Patel Thompson on the Superpowers Of Second Time Founders
Sometimes you meet a founder during a startup pitch and you just know you’re going to be friends, regardless of whether they take your money or not. Avni Patel Thompson is one of those people. And I was right! So when writing about Second Time Founders, Avni came to the top of my list. We’ve talked often about this topic and a quick interview turned into the thoughts below (and you can get amazing essays on startup life from her free Substack newsletter).
I like being a second-time founder.
It’s like having your second kid. You don’t sweat the small stuff because you know what the small stuff actually is. You feel more confident in your instincts and rely on your gut more than your hyperactive mind and what other hyperactive minds around you tell you.
You have a general sense of the shape of things — the highs, the lows, the things to watch out for, the things to not stress about so desperately.
Being a second time founder is such a gift in so many ways.
But it can also be a danger. There is a unique flavor of paranoid confidence that is bestowed upon repeat founders — more confident in what’s possible and how to pursue it, but also constantly aware of all the ways you can fuck it up.
Beyond that, startup years are hard on a founder. The hours worked, the heart and soul consumed, the impossible decisions, the painful people calls. All buried deep down, in service of keeping the company alive.
All of this accumulates and unless it’s being processed by some high power therapy (which, let’s be honest, for most of us, it isn’t), it’s just pile on and piles up, a toxic carbon compressed under the highest of pressures into a deadly diamond that is what shines when others look at us.
But we know the truth. It’s dangerous if not handled correctly. Instead of the being the hardest substance that gives us superhuman strength, it can be the brittle kryptonite that crumbles with the wrong crack and leads to our downfall.
If you’ve been a founder and you’re considering getting back into the arena here’s what I would say are the 3 biggest superpowers you can count on and the 3 areas…