Founder Syndrome: Working in Startups Doesn’t Always Mean Starting a Company

Aspiring founders and entrepreneurs gathered at 1871 on March 31st to hear from a panel of experienced starters including: Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871 & Managing Partner at G2T3V,  Eric Olsen, Early Stage VC at Origin Ventures, Shreena Amin, COO at PrettyQuick, with Jason Henrichs, Managing Director at Startup Institute moderating the discussion.


The walls were broken down on the glitz and glamour of startup life that evening as the panel encouraged entrepreneurs and founders to look past the stories of startups that sold for billions. Instead, the discussion revealed the grit, years of hard work and sometimes pain that was associated with turning an idea into a reality.

When asked, is there a difference between a founder and an entrepreneur? Steve Jobs was referred to as a founder who had vision and entrepreneurship spirit. If you have the spirit, but lack the vision, you’re probably best suited as a startup employee. This reminded me of a video of Steve Jobs leading NEXT and talking about “Vision [7:15]” and the “Work it takes to start a company [13:00].”

So, how do you know when you’re ready to be a founder or an entrepreneur? It became clear that the panel was asking the audience, “Are you ready to do the work put in the time to become a founder?” A question that shone through when Howard Tullman asked “How are you going to get in and lead the parade instead of just joining?”

Are you ready to take the leap as a founder? Do you have valuable startup skills that will make you an asset to someone who has the vision, but needs help executing? It takes a lot more than one or two people to start a company.

For more on the topic, check out these interviews with Chicago startup founders and employees:

Erik Severinghaus: There’s Never a ‘Right Time’ to be a FounderHoward Tullman: You’re Not Ready to be a FounderHenry Vasquez: 5 Points of Focus Before Founding a CompanyMike McGee: Pros and Cons of Starting a Company

Regardless of the title, the path to startup life awaits.

Ready to be an employee at an early stage company? Visit Startup Institute to learn more about our summer session.