This Is Not a Success Story

A business is not a game. It’s a real thing with real impacts to real people.

Joe Procopio
5 min readOct 23


When is burning through $30 million of startup funding considered a success?

That’s not a hypothetical question. There is no clever “gotcha” answer waiting for you at the end of this post.

But there is some truth, so please do keep reading.

I’m Sorry, PR Person Who Wrote Me

Last week, a startup PR person wrote in via my website in the hopes that I would write about some new money coming in to said startup.

First things first. Please don’t ask me to do this. I’m not a journalist. I don’t have those skills. I’m just an entrepreneur with a big mouth. So I rarely, if ever, write about any company I’m not directly working with… unless I’m going to destroy it.

On a normal day, I’d just delete the email and move on. But this story caught my eye, because I’ve seen it a million times before, and this time it just stuck in my craw.

So again, a thousand apologies, PR person. You’re just doing your job.

The gist of the story is that the startup had just raised a couple million bucks. Awesome. Kudos. Seriously.

But… no one is going to write about that, or podcast it or put it on the YouTubes. The plucky PR person knew this, so the angle was that the startup had raised this new money after burning through $30+ million of prior funding, then shutting down, then pivoting to a new and much better business model.

A Failure is Not a Pivot

“You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

In the grand startup ecosystem, we have all sorts of crazy terms and slogans with vague meanings. We like to have fun. One of those terms is “pivot.”

In almost all cases, “pivot” is a term applied when the startup has absolutely no idea what it’s doing any more and sees an escape hatch or, in some cases, an opportunity to bring in a bunch of new money.

Startups pivot all the time. They pivot ideas, they pivot plans, they pivot markets, they can even pivot people. No…



Joe Procopio

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