Why is being a startup founder stressful?

Nolan Bushnell / November, 2017


Nolan Bushnell, Co-Founder and Board Chairman of newly founded Modal VR share his advice to founders on how to address stress with experience from starting more than twenty companies himself.

Video transcript:

Why is being a startup founder stressful?

Managing stress is really hard. What will happen is that when you get your company going, you’ll be absolutely convinced that you have no clue about what you’re doing. I know that the first 2-3 years of Atari I was consistently faking it until I could make it. Fake it till you make it. I was always afraid that I was going to be found out that I was clueless.

What’s interesting though is that big companies are equally clueless, the only thing that has happened is that they got a template and are recipe players. Just follow the recipes and they can survive. It’s almost automatic pilot. When you’re an entrepreneur you’re breaking new ground so don’t feel concerned.

The other issue is overwork. Overwork in entrepreneurs is very common. A lot of people lose their wives, have mental breakdowns, and sometimes even get into too much alcohol or drug abuse. Just because they’ve lost focus on what life is all about. And they are thinking ‘How hard should I work on the company because if I work as hard as I can, that’s ok’. What they are doing is that they are losing perspective. You have to work smart not hard. Sometimes in sprint working hard is ok, but working smart always trump working hard.



  • Nolan Bushnell, Modal VR
  • November, 2017
  • 2:15
  • Startup Basics

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