Do you often find yourself staring out the window, imagining that you’re one of the most successful tech moguls in the world, a real self-made hero that everyone looks up to? Have you already written your acceptance speech for every business award on Earth, and prepared a couple of motivational talks for aspiring entrepreneurs that remind you so much of your young, desperate self? Are you, by any chance, already working on your memoir, even though it’s more like a science-fiction novel at this point, because it is set in the future and is completely made-up? Once you’ve checked all of the above off your to-do list, follow the next 21 steps to become the startup founder that you always wanted to be. You don’t even have to have an actual company set up, just start with a dream, and our advice will carry you through!
1. First of all, spend all your savings on drones, hover boards, video game consoles, roombas, robotic unicorns and whatever useless gadgets you can find to fill your office with, just so you can use the hashtag #officelife on all your social media posts. Then ask your momma to lend you some cash to last you for the rest of the month.
2. Put a lot of thought into the most insignificant and impossible-to-solve problems first. Like how are you going to get hologram business cards that can produce a Star Wars-style visual projection of you, so you can introduce yourself every time someone looks at them?
3. Win the competition for the best developers in the market by offering them perks such as 10% discount coupons, unlimited Cheerios and free grooming for their pets to complement the sad little digit that you call a salary.
4. Make sure you regularly force your employees to have fun and interact with each other in ways that only kindergarteners would enjoy. Never consider that a quick game of laser tag during office hours is an introvert’s worst nightmare.
5. Turn your office (a.k.a. your dad’s garage) into a museum of comic book relics, with a separate section for each superhero framed by colorful LED lights. And while you’re at it, build a special shrine for Wonder Woman, since you’re so into promoting gender equality.
6. Keep ordering bean bag chairs from Amazon until you find one that accommodates the shape of your bottom perfectly, then never remember to actually sit in it. Now all you need to do is find a corner in your office that can serve as the designated bean bag chair cemetery.
7. Never stop chasing your dream. Even when it becomes crystal clear that there is no market for what you’re trying to do, and your “users” hate your app so much that they take the time give it the lowest possible rating and write a couple of NSFW reviews. Time will prove you right.
8. Drop out of college to become a startup founder, and be sure to announce it on social media, preferably in one of those sit-down vlogs where you talk straight to the camera for twenty minutes, and then meaningfully stare into the lense for a while, to let it all sink in.
9. Come up with an inimitably original name for your startup. It can be any random word that has an “i” in it, just make sure you switch it to a “y” to make it sexy. Better yet, make it a compound of two half-words awkwardly squeezed together to form a new word that you invented. So many options!
10. Practice your elevator pitch for hours, standing in front of a mirror, until you’re able to deliver it perfectly with a straight face even when you wake up in the middle of the night, when you’re nearly blackout drunk, and when you’re so nervous you may or may not have wet your pants a bit.
11. Make sure you grab every opportunity to pitch your idea to anyone, anywhere. Rest assured, the garbage man cannot wait to hear about your crazy cool app, even if you have to chase him down the street at 5 am to make him listen. An even if your “app” is more of a prototype, i.e. a not very well-thought-out idea at this stage.
12. Every time someone wants you to take responsibility for your disastrous financial decisions, defend yourself by letting them know that you’re just a poor computer nerd with a dream, and it hurts your soul that they’re not being supportive enough.
13. Try to create a product that is so unnecessary that no one’s ever thought of making it before. This way, you’ll not only disrupt the market, you will have created something so revolutionary that it generates its own market demand.
14. Before you actually take steps to build your revolutionary product, tell everyone about it, while continuously praising yourself for having come up with it in the first place. Then let someone smarter steal your idea as you fail miserably at containing your excitement about your own ingenuity.
15. Do not forget to look a certain way every time you appear in public. This won’t be hard, because it is exactly what you look like when you’re not in public. A worn T-shirt, ruffled hair, black-rimmed glasses and a three-day stubble will do, just make sure that your shoes are on-point, meaning they are either self-lacing or have little lights installed that start flashing when you walk.
16. Always use complicated tech expressions and abbreviations that ordinary mortals couldn’t possibly understand. The more irrelevant they are in a certain context, the better.
17. Come up with a catchy slogan for your company that implies how you are going to change the future.
18. Pay someone a fortune to design a logo for your startup that can easily be mistaken for the logo of a company that sells feminine hygiene products. Who told them they could have all the butterflies and flowers and pinks and purples anyway?
19. Make sure you always stress that you are a startup founder every time you introduce yourself, whether you’re being admitted to a hospital, ordering take-out over the phone or meeting your girlfriend’s parents for the first time. This way, no one can ever take your baby away from you.
20. Quote Steve Jobs or Elon Musk as often as possible. You don’t have to learn actual quotes, just make sure you justify everything you say by starting the sentence with “Like Steve Jobs used to say…”
21. Make sure you appear as relaxed as possible every time you interview someone who’s looking to work with you. When they arrive, ask them if they’d rather have artisan beer or kombucha, then look into your mini fridge and announce that all you have left is vodka.