Why the extremely successful serial entrepreneur sees entrepreneurship as the worst enemy

Ben Lamm, the highly successful serial entrepreneur who has built and sold five startups so far, has some notable advice for aspiring and budding entrepreneurs. He says that the dark side of entrepreneurship is a horrific and nerve-racking experience.

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Highlighting the benefits of super successful startups that became a unicorn is common in media. Stories of startups becoming unicorns or entrepreneurs making a fortune from nothing can be found all around.

What everyone focuses on how is how successful the business became, ignoring the efforts or sleepless nights an entrepreneur invested to reach here. It’s all because we are always excited to read and learn from the success of other people and not from their failures. We tend to forget that even the failed entrepreneur must have left no stone unturned to avoid failure, and during the course of it, he/she might have enlightened with many things that could be great learnings for others.

Tech executive Ben Lamm stresses the other part of entrepreneurship, saying, “It’s like my worst enemy,” to CNBC Make It.   

Lamm is a highly successful entrepreneur who has built and sold five companies in the last two decades—from e-learning software company Simply Interactive to building AI-product builder Hypergiant, digital gaming company Team Chaosand an AI-driven company that focuses on conversational intelligence.

Right now, he is working with his team on his sixth company, Colossal Biosciences, “ a biotechnology company working to genetically resurrect the woolly mammoth, combining its genes with Asian elephant DNA.” Recently, he successfully raised $60 million in funding for the same. 

However, Lamm believes his work has been overhyped by the media, focused on glorifying success stories while completely ignoring the dark side of building a business from nothing. He wasn’t entirely against media but believed the other part is more important to display the correct picture and set the right expectations for entrepreneurs. 

“I don’t know if I wish entrepreneurship on anyone; it’s my worst enemy. I don’t know if it’s a compliment, necessarily, calling someone an entrepreneur.”

Lamm further explains the hardships he had been through to raise funds and make these companies profitable. Some of the notable viewpoints that grab attention are:

  • You need to sacrifice a lot of time you could have spent with your family. 
  • Travel more than 200 days, and handle shareholder and boardroom disputes.
  • Cry over failures, work when you are completely exhausted, or keep the team motivated even when you see the failure ahead.

When you are the company founder, you are responsible for failure or growth. That’s why you cannot stop working, and every time you need to push yourself forward, that increases stress. 

Entrepreneurship takes a lot that is often left undiscussed. Lamm says, “I probably cry more than the average person. I’m a highly emotional person.”

How entrepreneurs must deal with the stress

Lamm has a highly successful career because of his revolutionary ideas, innovative thinking, and risk-taking capabilities. Even his Twitter account contains many tweets outside his niche.

That’s his formula for tackling stress!

Disconnect yourself from work while focusing on other things that equally matter a lot.

He also emphasizes spending some personal time with family on vacations where you separate yourself from work and focus on personal well-being. Lamm forces himself to go out with family, where he checks his emails and messages for two hours in the morning; later, he completely disconnects.

He also says to focus on the amount of sleep you get because sleeping less will hamper overall productivity, resulting in burnout or extreme work stress.

The bottom line 

Building a million-dollar business from scratch is challenging. Still, it gets more complicated because most people only focus on how successful a business got while ignoring the efforts and pain of the founders and team behind it.

The same fact worries Lamm resulting in a situation where entrepreneurs jump into founding startups, but when they are introduced to the dark side, they resist and probably fail. Probably a reason why almost 90% of startups fail within five years in India.

The next time you hear about a highly successful startup, don’t forget to research the dark side, the struggle story! And then ask yourself, “Is the idea worth sweating your blood out and paying the price?


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