Why Startup Founders Fail: They Won’t Screw People Over

You’re going to come face to face with ethical choices and you need to be prepared

Joe Procopio
3 min readMar 30, 2023
image by borjandreu

When I was seven years old, I sucker-punched a bully.

He wanted something I had, and he demanded it from me. I said no. Then he did that thing where he puffed himself up and got in my face to intimidate me. I was staring at his feet the whole time, but then, without thinking, I reared back and hit him in the stomach as hard as I could. He went down like a bag of hammers.

I had never done anything like that. And I felt absolutely great about it.

I received the spoils of my victory. I got left alone. So did a few other people, but I didn’t care about them and they didn’t give me any credit. Life is not a Disney movie.

I also got into a world of trouble for it. Teachers, parents, and other figures of authority immediately stepped in and started screaming at me and grounding me. There were no winks and no nudges.

Life is not a Disney movie.

But I’m glad it happened that way, because I soon felt horrible about it. And that would go on to shape who I became.

Unfortunately, the person I became isn’t as successful as the person I might have…



Joe Procopio

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