How to Discover Your Meaning as a Founder

Why do most startups fail?

This is the most common question in the startup world.

From my experience, I understand that it’s not just about PMF, the Founding Team, Market trends, Financial hurdles, or others.

At the core, it’s often about founders giving up.

And it’s totally ok to give up.

It means you are sane.

But Why do Founders give up?

The answer is a combination of Daily Process & Direction (Mission).

  • If you don’t enjoy (+51% of) the daily process
  • =>You will eventually get frustrated, depressed, and anxious,
  • => and you have a high chance of giving up.


  • If you have only extrinsic motivations, like status or money.
  • => If what you do is not really important to you (the mission)
  • => You will resist for maybe a few years because of other motivations involved ($ or status)
  • => but eventually, you will burn out.

The outcomes can be

  • you give up,
  • you’re a depressed millionaire / not a millionaire,
  • or in rare cases, you’re doing very well because you have some psychopathic traits.

“People say you have to have a lot of passion for what you are doing, and that is totally true, and the reason is because it is so hard that if you don’t, any rational person would give up. It’s really hard, and you have to do it over a sustained period of time.”

Steve Jobs

📝 What can you do to discover your Founder-Startup FIT?

1. Look at your childhood & Discover your Specific Knowledge.

What is specific knowledge?

  • Specific knowledge is found by pursuing your curiosity.
  • Specific knowledge can’t be trained.
  • Building specific knowledge will feel like play to you.

Questions to ask yourself to find your specific knowledge

  • What are those activities that you did when you were between 5 and 15 years old in a deliberate way without having someone tell you to do them?
  • What makes you reach your flow state?
  • What is something that is very easy and natural for you to do, and for others, it looks like a 9 to 5 job?

Specific knowledge is found much more by pursuing your innate talents, your genuine curiosity, and your passion.

Read more about the concept of Specific Knowledge from my mentor, Naval Ravikant.

2. Evaluate your Direction:

  • Does your mission evoke a strong emotional response in you?
  • Does your daily work align with who you aspire to be?
  • Are you addressing a need that deeply matters to you?
  • Do you like the Customer you are trying to help? Why are you bothering to help them?
  • Do your customers really need you? Are they searching for you (a solution to their problem)?

If you find no real importance in your work and derive no joy from the process, frustration will inevitably arise. Even if other motivations keep you going, the lack of personal connection to your work can lead to eventual burnout and make you surrender.

Conversely, if your mission resonates deeply with you, and you find joy in the day-to-day process => the core activities of your startup => your resilience and commitment become your unbeatable strengths.

You’re invested not just with your mind but with your soul, too.

“Those who have a ‘why’ to live can bear with almost any ‘how.’”

Viktor Frankl

3. Discover a common answer to the following two questions:

Have in mind your potential customers & the problems they have and that you would want to solve. Ask yourself the following two questions:

  • Who or what needs you the most?
  • Who or what do you need the most?

The common answer might be your path as a Founder.

4. Discover your Founder-Product-Market-Fit

This is an equation with 3 important unknowns at the beginning

  • Founder:Does this have an emotional significance to you?
  • Product:Does the Product satisfy a market need?
  • Market:Is there a potential for strong market demand?

They fit? We have 3 YES?

5. There is no problem in not Knowing your direction yet

You can:

  • Experiment by launching different startup ideas, and be aware of that.
  • Or join another startup to build your knowledge base.
  • Give your best in scaling your learning process and put yourself in the best place for this.
  • Seek to be the fool in the room rather than being the smartest one.

The beauty of Life is that you can make up the answer and create your meaning.”

Naval Ravikant

Change and redefine your personal goals constantly (6-12 months) until you find that internal place where you feel at home.

There is a Magic feeling in Life when:

  • What you Feel,
  • What you Think,
  • and What you do

are all three on the same page.

Important note:

The Process of Discovering and understanding yourself can take years or more, and that’s totally ok. Be patient with yourself and ask the right questions constantly. A Psychologist or Psychotherapist is always helpful in discovering yourself faster and improving your emotional maturity.

This article was written by Adi Gheorghe, with amazing support from Elena Ghiniță in collaboration with The Recursive.

Link on The Recursive Article:

About The Recursive:

The Recursive is an independent community-born online media focused on the emerging tech and startup ecosystems in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Their mission is to provide constructive reporting on the progress of the local innovation community.

About the Author:

Adi Gheorghe, Mentor & Coach for Tech Founders | Early Stage | Worked with 350 Tech Founders & 200 Angels | Evaluated 3K pitch decks | Contributed in deal process of 30 investments | Co-founded an the Angel Investment Platform Growceanu & 5 Startups

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