There’s something swirling in the air around startups and founders. It’s refreshing, cold, hard honesty.
Maybe it took a Series A crunch or simply more ways for the truth to be unleashed. Perhaps it was startup suicide stories that got people to wake up. Journalists are even getting more honest, calling out startups that have perfectly manicured stories but lack traction.
What is going on?
Before when entrepreneurs would share battle wounds or mistakes, it happened a few years post-mortem or acquisition. Now everyone is sharing lessons learned as they happen. Even health issues, which are normally hidden from investors and peers, are being exposed. One entrepreneur recently shared a tale of being hospitalized with Rhabdomyolysis on his company’s blog.
Bonobos founder Andy Dunn has been one of the greatest truth tellers lately. His clothing startup is over six years old with ample funding ($72.7MM raised to date). Dunn's recent blog posts include stories about the difficulty of working with some venture capitalists and depression.
There are more examples of startups taking truth serum, like Ex-Startup Weekender, Shane Reiser, when he discussed all of his mistakes and reflected on leaving one startup to join another (Kohort). Or this article about Quarterly Co getting a new CEO. RapGenius' founders revealed they had no idea what they were doing during their first fundraise. Tara Hunt discussed startup grief and how difficult it can be to get back to reality after you've done a startup.
One of the hottest truth topics right now is about startup failure. Recent trending Tumblrs like “My Startup Has 30 Days to Live” anonymously peel the layer of failure in painstaking daily detail.
Anyone who has been in the game long enough knows the bumps and bruises and even acquisitions are sometimes the only difficult and true outcome for startups. VC Charlie O’Donnell says on his blog to fist bump founders and acknowledge, “Way to move the runners over.”
It seems all the things that were taboo are now topics for open discussion. When I talked about What to Do When Your Startup Doesn’t Fail, But Doesn’t Succeed Either, praise came across the country from founders in the same position or who had been there. Talking about growth or next phases of a startup (even if it's not pretty) is now the missing piece to the puzzle a community is building.
Are the days of polish and exaggeration over? Did exaggeration ever truly benefit a startup? It used to be do whatever it takes “to get the money” but perhaps that is what got us in the Series A crunch to begin with.
Either way the path of truth is setting everyone free, which is good, because it seems the community is finally coming together in a way that will benefit both founders and investors together. Innovation happens when information is shared faster.
This story originally appeared on Business Insider.