The Startup Malaise Phase Makes a Lot of Good Founders Give Up

Why It Takes Years To Have a Weekend Breakthrough

Joe Procopio
4 min readDec 19, 2022


image by dcstudio

Why do most successful startups seem like they became successful overnight?

Because they do. But the trick there, one that very few people understand, is that it often takes years for that overnight success to become a possibility.

If you’re like most startup founders and entrepreneurs, you’ve probably been frustrated, maybe even right now, that the machine you’ve built on top of your business isn’t working like it should if it’s ultimately going to be the success you initially envisioned.

The malaise phase of starting up is a natural phenomenon for almost everyone who starts their own business. It’s their personal path of hot coals to walk over, their own 40 days in the desert, and it’s enough to make most of them give up.

Don’t give up. Do something like this instead.

Freakin’ Eureka!

I have a side project called Teaching Startup, with a mission of making advice for entrepreneurs and founders more efficient, effective, and affordable, by reinventing how that advice is offered, constructed, and delivered.

Last Friday, driving home from my real job running product at a VC-backed startup, I had an idea. It was seemingly a minor idea. How minor? What if our website’s search paradigm automatically determined what the user needed instead of letting them choose how they wanted to search?

This was a what-if that was already on my roadmap, but in a slightly different form. It was a feature I had tried to build before, many times in fact, but I could never get it to work the way I wanted it to, and I had wasted hours and days in the process. It was something that tied directly back to my “billion dollar” mission, which I won’t detail here, but suffice to say it has much more to it than just a web search.

That said, it was always nagging at the back of my brain that a search function, built the way I needed it to work, was a necessary and complicated first step on that mission.

So I sighed, I shrugged, and when I got home I opened my laptop and started coding. As the clock ticked to…



Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building & GROWERS. Write at and More at

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