Debunking The Myth of the Fearless Founder


Some people start a business because they have an idea and others because they never imagined doing anything else. But every long-lasting business started because someone saw a problem go unresolved for too long and wanted to fix it.


The excitement of doing something new can be enticing and the sense of accomplishment very satisfying. But it’s undeniable that starting a company takes guts. So it makes sense that we many entrepreneurs touted publicly for being “fearless” and “unafraid”. In reality, a lack of fear is not what makes a good business leader. And by no means do you need to be fearless to be an entrepreneur.

Actually, as Jessica Mah humbly points out in a recent interview, she is afraid of a lot of things. So many things in fact that it can drive her into temporary moments of uncertainty and anxiety (every quarter or so). In those moments, she finds that it’s not about losing the fear but that refueling her confidence is what she needs most.


If you haven’t thought about giving up, are you really an entrepreneur?

In my experience studying startups, I have yet to come across a single one that claims the journey is all a walk in a park full of roses. There comes a point for each company and founder where so many things have gone wrong that there is this hole that seems too deep to climb out of. That hole is fear and the earlier it is realized, the sooner you can thwart those feelings of defeat from turning into a self-fulfilling prophecy. As Jessica Mah shares, in some of the darkest times at indinero she drew on inward and outward encouragement and highlights the expert advice of one of our investors who reassured her:



“Jessica, it’s not too late to change everything.” – Steve Blank, Silicon Valley pioneer (and indinero investor)




This mindset is on par with the idea of hitting rock bottom. Because like they say, you don’t have anywhere to go but up. What most people overlook about this saying is that you also have all of the wisdom afforded by failing and falling to the depths. With these lessons learned in your back pocket, it would be an utter waste to leave the dream behind.


Ultimately what Jessica found in her experience was that having this confidence is what helped her and indinero recover from what could have been the end. Drawing on this realization, she’s  shared that story and the impact it has had indinero as it is today with Poornima Vijayashanker and her listeners on the Femgineer blog/podcast.


Here’s a quick excerpt:


YouTube video


Watch the full interview here


About Poornima & Femgineer:

Femgineer started in 2007 as a blog to share Poornima Vijayashanker’s experiences as the founding engineer at Today, it is an education company with a mission to teach innovators how to build great software products so they can find freedom in their careers, make a positive impact on people’s lives, and make the tech world more inclusive and flexible. Femgineer’s team includes instructors and writers who are experts on product development, design, and marketing. The company’s students and readers are women and men around the world, both technical and non-technical, who are passionate about tech.