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Antler - Elegy

Sun May 26, 2024

We're almost at the end of the program.

Week 7

If you recall, an earlier Antler notes piece said

Week 7 Is where you'll be asked to exit if there's judged to be no shot. Don't take it personally, but have it in mind, and see if you can put something together by then, or at least show the potential to be advised and put something together.

Well, that happened.

After the cut, 28 of the ~70 us were left. There's no intrinsic shame in being cut. Some of the people in the program spoke about this as though it would be shameful, or rough, or traumatic. The actual situation is: you worked hard, invalidated a bunch of ideas, and didn't pivot to anything that seems like it has spectacular growth value, and you didn't find a solid co-founder. You might have if you'd had a wider timebox, but you had seven weeks. Realistically, the investors have to focus down, and they're doing it by focusing on people that did manage those things. So, exit this time and good luck with your next thing. Feel free to apply again for the next cohort.

No one got cut because they didn't work their ass off, and several will definitely be back for the next cohort.

I didn't know how to feel about this at the time. Mild survivors' guilt was mixed in, but I was also happy I made it through. And I also reflected on the fact that this was true in large part due to two or three really fortuitous events. I get that you make your own luck sometimes, and being where I am now is also in large part due to grit and capability, but it's still counterintuitive how much space luck takes in the attribution breakdown.

Week 9

In any case, that didn't last long. Because the next two weeks were a build-a-thon of features my startup needs to service our rapidly growing client list. The last time I was this focused and interested in a build was probably back when I was putting full-time effort into cl-notebook. Which github tells me was around 6 years ago (and simultaneously somehow feels like both yesterday and 20 years ago).

The build components aren't anything interesting. It's going to be a mircroservice system built mostly in Python and React, with data stored variously in S3, Postgres and Redis. Given the logo bar, this is the most vanilla project I've ever authored. Zero lisp of any kind anywhere in sight. It is going to be a microservice fleet, so potentially, there's going to be one or two things we want to do that are trivial in Clojure or Haskell or whatever, but having explored the language world, I don't particularly feel the need to shoehorn anything like that in.

That's a digression though. Our pitch was on Friday. Given the questions, the mood in the pitch room, and our current state of play, I think we've got somewhat better than a coin-flip chance. Manifold agrees, for what that's worth, even though there isn't much liquidity in the market. It's extremely likely that I'll have enough information to resolve that market by Monday.

In either case, there's no backing out of this now. We have a working prototype that we're launching to our existing clients on Monday. That is, tomorrow at time of this writing. Whether we secure the Antler investment or not, this is a go for takeoff. And we're both throwing a bunch of our sweat equity into it.

I'm still kind of holding my breath, waiting for the result to come in. As always, I'll let you know how it goes.


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