Start-up secret 13: no time like the present

So, you’re a struggling start-up, wondering why others are getting ahead while you’re mired in red tape and disillusionment. This series of start-up tips will help you become one of the winners.

Get out while you still can.

— Ranjith Kumaran, founder of PunchTab, co-founder of YouSendIt.

When do you leave a start-up? If you’re the CEO, you’re kind of obliged to stay at the helm as long as possible, right?

Ranjith Kumaran says that you have to weigh your responsibilities (to funders and employees) against your own skills and interests. “If you feel you have another start-up in you, and especially if you are running a successful company, now’s the time. Use your founder DNA.”

His story: he co-founded the large-file-transfer service YouSendIt in 2005. It was a success; by 2010, it had ramped up to over $24 million per year in revenue. Working at this company became a low-risk job, and Kumaran ended up doing MA. The company was growing nicely, and had a mature management team.

Heaven, right? Not for him. “I like the early-stage stuff,” he says. “I love the butterflies in the stomach when I wake up every morning. I want to be that guy.”

If you’re an entrepreneur, you probably get this.

Kumaran left YouSendIt when it was doing well, he says, so he could start PunchTab (in January of this year), a loyalty platform for website owners and bloggers. (No, I don’t quite understand that blurb either.) But the point is that he feels he’s more effective as a beach stormer. For sure, we need guys like him. But what do we do with them once the ground is won?

He adds that bailing out of a no-longer-a-start-up company that’s working is not just about following your passion. You have to time it. He thinks the current easy-money environment has another 18 months of life in it, if that. After that, “it will be worse than 2008”. You might end up sitting in a good job after that, but you won’t be able to leave it.

Start-up Secrets is based on personal interviews with people building companies and from their blog posts and news stories.


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