There’s a lot of agita around the supposed plague of wantrepreneurs–posers who are into being entrepreneurs because it’s trendy, rather than because they want to build real businesses. This Fortune piece is a good representative of the genre:
“Wannabe entrepreneurs with laptops hog up the physical and digital bandwidth of the Valley right now,” griped one entrepreneur, whose company was acquired by Google (GOOG) for millions. “It’s almost an excuse to be lazy and put yourself in charge of something,” agrees another co-founder.”
But in reality, wantrepreneurship isn’t a real problem. Like the similar plague of stories about the hyper-sexualization of college (despite a general decline of sex on campus), wantrepreneur coverage represents the media trolling the rest of us.
Wantrepreneurship is largely a self-correcting problem. Let’s walk down the tree of possibilities:
1) Wantrepreneurs who don’t raise money are just Coupa Cafe posers; if anything, they boost the economy by spending their parents’ money on overpriced lattes.
2) Wantrepreneurs who manage to raise a seed round are a self-correcting problem. $250K doesn’t take you very far, especially if you have no idea how to run a business. While a few reckless angels might lost their money on these deals, they can afford the loss, and they pretty much deserve the outcome for investing in the wrong people.
3) Venture capitalists will rarely fund a wantrepreneur. They may fund bad entrepreneurs because they’ve build a hot app or service, but the very fact that they’ve built something that the market likes takes them out of the wantrepreneur category. I challenge you to find one instance of a first-time entrepreneur who managed to raise a Series A without building something of value first.
Wantrepreneurs are simply an infuriating trope that’s too bad to be true–think of hipsters who use food stamps to buy lobsters, or teen girls holding “rainbow” parties. What they truly reflect are our own anxieties–we fear that we’re missing out on a boom, or we think that we could raise money for our own startups if only we wore the right clothes and went to the right parties.
Any time you spend worrying about wantrepreneurs is 100% wasted. If you are a hard-working entrepreneur, let the press hype what it will–focus on building a real business instead.