my email yesterday about "Can you have a baby and a startup"

Sent this to my email newsletter yesterday.

Your instructions:

a) Please enjoy reading this
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all the best, Jason

One of the questions I’ve been getting a lot is if you can have a baby and run a startup. The question came up again today on the wonderfully developer-driven Hacker News.

Now, Hacker News is a Digg-like social news site that is largely populated by aspiring entrepreneur/developers in their late teens and early 20s. It’s run by the awesome tech incubator Y-Combinator and you can become addicted to the service here:

I figured I would answer this question on having a kid and running a startup in my inadvisable–but insightful and sometimes funny–trademark blunt style.

Question:  How does having a baby change your life as an entrepreneur?*

* I added the end part about “as an entrepreneur.”

Jason’s Answers: We welcomed our daughter 11 months ago, and it's been the most wonderful experience of my life–hands down. It is one of the few things in life I've found that is actually *not* overrated.

Avatar? Overrated.
iPhone 4? Overrated.
Sushi in Japan? Overrated.

Baby? Not overrated.

I wake up every day looking forward to spending time together, and my weekends are centered around activities with her. It's a dream.

It is fairly clear to me as a life-long entrepreneur that something chemical changes in your brain after you welcome your child into the world.

You simply don't look at your startup as the  most important thing in life. That's a major change for someone like me who is very competitive, driven and results-based entrepreneur.

That being said, I've found I'm much more efficient than I was pre-baby. I'm certain this is driven by necessity (i.e. I can't stay up until 3am working AND get up at 6:30am with the baby).

Something has to give, and in my case it’s this newsletter (sorry!) and playing 10-hour poker sessions with my degenerate friends. Of course, I’m playing a lot on Full Tilt Poker now that I’m a “Red Pro,” which means I’m official sponsored. I mean, how cool is that? (If you want to play with me visit here and use promo code: CALACANIS. Then I will follow you and invite you to my big online charity tournament!).

For the first time in my life, outside of running marathons and brutal martial arts practices, I've actually felt exhaustion. It's been kind of cool to feel this, since normally I'm so engaged that I'm exhausting the people around me.

One thing I didn’t expect, is that I'm totally engaged as an entrepreneur, and in fact more confident and excited to take on new things every day. I've done more angel investing, hired more people, started more companies, pivoted Mahalo a little bit (with amazing results), and generally been having MORE fun at "work" every day.

I’m inspired to provide, create and succeed more than ever, but not because of the things that drove me in my earlier years like competition (although that’s still there). Nope, after you have a kid you just want to do everything a little better. Does that make sense fellow parents?

As for being an entrepreneur and having a baby, I believe:

a) Don't have a baby during your first or second startup (if you can avoid it). Wait until you're in your 30s (in my case, late 30s!). I don't think I could have done Weblogs Inc or Silicon Alley Reporter if I had kids. At the point, frankly, I was broke and barely able to keep my startups going. I would have quit both startups before they hit their stride in order to make more money working for someone else at a higher salary.

b) When you do decide to take the jump–and you should if you’re a good person in a good place in your life–than do make sure you have support and resources. There are these people called "night nurses," who are like nannies but more expensive, and while they will save your life they will also drain your bank account. 🙂 Get your parents to help, save some money up–whatever you can swing because babies take 120% of your energy. They require complete focus, and you can't be 80% or they will just take your laptop and start pounding on it with their oatmeal… trust me, I know of what I speak.

Bottom line:

1. kids + no resources + first startup = #fail
2. kids + resources/support + second or third startup = totally fine/you’ll be inspired.

Anything in between and you're probably going to be very, very tired, and have a spouse that is not happy.

If you want to succeed as a young entrepreneur wait until you're in your 30s to have your kids.

all the best,


PS – I’ve got about five solid pieces in the works… some big, big news next week as well about the newsletter. 🙂

PPS – Really great company I was able to angel invest in, Riptano, announced funding from Sequoia Capital this week. They got a nice write up in the WSJ.

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