Essays/how it feels quitting your own startup

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Creating a startup is an extremely personal endeavor. It starts with you, your computer, and perhaps one more person with whom you discuss. It can slowly grow, but during the first few years it is you the only one that can make things happen.

Moving away from the startup you created and sustained over years is a very tough decision.

In my specific case, I'm departing an extremely young company, since Dispertech is still in its infancy: we have no customers, our first product, the NanoCET did not fly too far, and the second product is barely at a minimum viable product level.

I got somewhat emotionally attached to this second product, the NanoQNT. It is based on a light sheet microscope, and I believe it can become a game changer in many contexts, and especially for extracellular vesicles characterization.

The closest feeling I have to leaving my own startup is that of a breakup.

You know it is for the better, but it still does not feel completely alright. Especially because it is a lengthy process, you can't simply stop seeing each other.

I really enjoyed working with the team that gathered around the fussball table after lunch every day. I liked overcoming challenges together, thinking about the future, solving problems in creative ways.

The decision to move forward, both professionally and personally, was taken swiftly but not lightly.

Over time, I felt alienated from my own company. Decisions were made without clear communication. And as the team grew, I couldn't sustain it any longer.

The situation became very taxing, and it prevented me from focusing on the things that were important. It prevented me from focusing on strengthening the skills I wanted to develop, and to empower the team to become the better version of themselves.

During more than 4 years, I placed all my energy into building tools I thought were extraordinary (and I still believe they are). I spent a lot of energy into building a business and a team. Now it is in their hands to keep pushing forward, to bring the company to the next level.

Going away at this moment sounds like an irrational choice, but I was one I had to take, I had to place myself and my peace of mind ahead of anything else.

I take with me an broad range of learnings, I developed both hard and soft skills. I think I'm ready for new adventures, but it'll take me a while to readjust and to collect myself.


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Aquiles Carattino
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