FailCon - Because Things Don't Always Work Out

Startups come to celebrate success .. and learn from failure

By Scott Budman
|  Monday, Oct 25, 2010  |  Updated 10:15 AM PDT
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FailCon - Because Things Don't Always Work Out

Greg Bledsoe

Sometimes, we flop.

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Buck's restaurant is often called Ground Zero for Silicon Valley startups.  Many a VC and young CEO have crafted a deal over pancakes there, and I've always enjoyed talking to the players at the restaurant where the deals go down.

But the best Buck's-related story I've ever been told, by a VC who just nailed a deal for billions of dollars, was that he never - never - backs a company unless the founder has failed at something.  He says it builds character for long-term success.

It's a story they'd probably love at FailCon, a convention starting today in San Francisco that acknowledges things don't always work out.  Sometimes (actually, frequently) the deal doesn't go down.  Sometimes, the company spends too much and has to let everybody go.  For all of Silicon Valley's success stories, there are many more tales of companies that fell flat, ran out of money, or had their key product come up short of approval.

Now, FailCon isn't going to be all doom and gloom.  I've covered it before, and like the VC in the aforementioned story, this is a convention that understands how striking out can eventually lead to home runs.  You'll meet VCs with cautionary tales, and CEOs who thought they had the deal done, only to watch it slip through their fingers. 

If you're just starting a company, FailCon is a great place to pick up cautionary tales, and learn from those who have already been there.  If you're looking for a snart, battle-tested company to invest in, this is the conference that doesn't just spread sunshine - it tells you how it really is.  And that may be the best tip you could ask for.

Scott stumbles all the time.  He's on Twitter:  @scottbudman

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