I haven’t written much lately. Not sure why, there are lots of ideas in my head. It could be the travel (65 out of 90 days!), or maybe what is happening at Graphicly (change for lack of a better word, is good). Or maybe I’m hitting a down cycle and just want to live (bipolar is awesome!).
In the past couple of days, I have spoken with a friend that left the country in part to just disconnect, another friend that has a budding romance and an app that is soon to launch, and a third friend that is using some crazy computer chips and eInk to take over the world. The commonality among them?
About a year and a half ago, I was in the midst of doing Four Hour Body. One aspect of 4HB is the cheat day, which turns out to be the only part of the diet that I was amazing at accomplishing perfectly.
Near my house in San Mateo, I found a donut shop. It’s old school. No wifi. Cash only. Seats maybe 20. High School girl behind the counter still months away from graduation. And at the corner table, a group of about 6 elderly men and women that clearly have been showing up every Saturday for years.
This was my cheat place. A place that every Saturday I could disappear for a couple of hours and leave all the energy of startup life behind. And their apple fritters are fucking amazing.
Over the course of the next few months, I started to invite friends to join me on Saturday. The rules? Had to be a founder or VC, and couldn’t live in SF or Palo Alto (they have enough meetups). And in a nod to Francisco Dao and 50Kings – no pitching, no selling and no dicks.
What happened was amazing. All pretense disappeared. People began to talk about the best and worst of being a founder. It has become, in the words of one attendee, Founder’s Anonymous.
And now, a year or so later, 10 or 12 people come every Saturday and hangout at this little donut shop with really shitty coffee (but amazing apple fritters) for hours. Like 3 or 4 hours.
Because in order for founders to exist, we need pals.
Peers that are our equals. Not cofounders that are selected based on skill set (which happens way too often), but people who will stand with us in the dark times and we will stand with them under their clouds.
We need to understand that we are not alone. Not because we are “all in this together,” but because the difficulties and successes we face are not unique. We are, after all, members of a local and global startup ecosystem where the interaction between the members of that ecosystem are more important than the actions of the individuals. Yes, we are the sum of our parts.
It has become clear that our donuts meeting, our Founder’s Anonymous needs to scale. That for startup communities where a similar gathering exists, the general happiness factor within that community is higher.
Imagine scaling donuts to each community? How much value would that bring? Knowing that every week you had a place to go where everyone knew your name and nobody cared about your level of success? That sharing a donut would drive the ability to get invaluable advice that was virtually impossible to access anywhere else?
Communities need places like Pilgrim Kitchen. They need places that are so stripped bare that the people who come equally strip their pretense and focus on the betterment of each other.
If you happen to be in the neighborhood and want some good donuts and conversion, swing by. But more importantly, find your own donut place and invite some founders. You might be surprised at the power of shitty coffee.