Matt and Sam were sitting upstairs in a death metal bar on the night of December 17th. The place was apparently known for its reuben sandwiches. They were the only people there.
"Hey so I wanted to tell you this in person. We got kicked out of the incubator." Matt said.
Sam pursed his lips with discomfort, a tad of confusion, and a pang of disappointment. He stuffed these feelings down with a bite of his sandwich dipped in ranch. Then he stuffed more feelings down with a handful of fries, dipped in ranch.
Sam was thinking that Matt had one job, and that job was to keep them afloat in the incubator. But Sam was also thinking about how useless the incubator had felt. And then Sam was wondering how committed Matt was to the startup.
"I want to be useful." Matt said.
"Then do what you commit to doing." Sam said.
There was some more silence and several more uncomfortable handfuls of fries.
"What happened?" Sam asked.
"I just didn't have time to do the work. I couldn't keep up with it. Not with a full time job."
"Why didn't you ask me to help you?"
They ate more fries and sat in uncomfortable silence. It almost seemed like the whole moment was one big joke and both were waiting to burst out laughing. Matt and Sam were not good at being angry or even serious with one another.
"Well, we got what we needed out of it I guess," Sam said.
"And we made some good connections."
"So now we just need to continue on I guess."
They were out of the incubator, but they weren't defeated. They were far from done. They had made it through the major incubator milestone, which meant their idea was worth something. They had their roadmap, their business plan, and a brand. If anything, now they'd have time to focus on the things they found important, like building up a user base and working on their app.
Sam looked at Matt, "So what do we do from here? I'm concerned we'll lose momentum. And I don't have time to do everything myself."
"This is a wake up call. I won't let this happen again," Matt said.
Sam observed a renewed passion in Matt. He could tell that whatever disappointment he felt, Matt felt it even deeper. Sam was concerned, but also inspired. He was annoyed, but also relieved. And despite the sour news, the reuben sandwich had been excellent.
The subsequent weeks would be consumed by holidays. But then Matt and Sam would get to work. They would launch their company officially. And they would take their failures in their stride.
"Startups only die when their founders give up."