About a year ago, Mark decided that he needed to scratch the entrepreneurial itch fully, and left the bank to join one of his startup clients, Updater.
Updater offers a slick and modern free change of address platform while also providing all kinds of extra benefits to its users. The company has been steadily building momentum and, as I discovered while catching up with Mark, it's clear that there are a ton of really cool and valuable things that the company will announce soon.
There's a lot to be excited about with Updater, and clearly Mark is loving startup life. When I asked him to describe what it's been like taking the leap from startup advisor to startup doer, I thought his analogy was enlightening and useful for anyone thinking about taking a similar leap.
"It's like a marathon," Mark said.
I nodded and thought I was getting where he was going. In building Square 1 Bank over the last 6 years, we have a regular refrain at the end of all-hands-on company meetings—"It's a marathon, not a sprint." Building companies is hard work, and takes a long time.
Mark meant something similar but a little different too. He had trained for and successfully completed the Boston Marathon in 2011 and knew that I had completed NYC in 2009. We both were diligent in training before our respective races— with hundreds of miles logged and plans followed to a T. By the end, we were doing 22 miles in training runs and were completely prepared for the big day.
Or so we thought.
When the marathon finally comes, almost everyone gets to a point at which they realize that no manner of preparation could possibly prepare them for the moment. Often, this is around the 18-mile mark or perhaps 20 miles in. The last six to eight miles are a slog of unimaginable proportions. There is simply nothing you can do to prepare and no way to know how to deal with this reality other than to fight through and keep moving -- one foot in front of another.
Mark had been a startup advisor. He'd worked alongside hundreds of entrepreneurs. As he prepared to make his leap, he had every advantage in terms of knowing what was coming. He was trained and prepped and ready for the big race.
And still, startups are like marathons. There's no way to fully prepare until you're all the way in.
It was refreshing to hear Mark's candid thoughts (he gave me his blessing to share via this post), because it paints a much more realistic picture of startup life than what is often seen via TechCrunch or the snazzy pitches at the latest conference.
Startups are extremely hard work, and sometimes it may seem like you're only putting one foot in front of the other.
But as the founder of the NYC Marathon, Fred Lebow, said, "Few things in life match the thrill of a marathon."