Our Founder, sharing what’s real.
I haven’t shared this in an open forum before today, and in creating a project about authenticity, I would like to share authentically with you.
A year ago, almost the exact date of Impact Founder’s launch, I was on the phone with the suicide prevention hotline. The relationship with my boyfriend at the time was ending and he was threatening to commit suicide. He confided in me, told me every detail as to why: he was overwhelmed, his business was growing too fast to keep up and with everything that was happening between us, it became unbearable and he didn’t see a way out, he wanted to kill himself. He shared with me every detail as to how he had it planned, and that it would be easy, painless.
It was the single most important decision I made, to call the hotline. I was committed to doing what I could. Not his anger, refusal to let me in, threat to call the police, piercing spiteful silence, drunken yelling, outpour of emotion and eventual distrust kept me from being a stand for his life. I knew none of it was about me, and I stayed present with him until he was asleep. When I left, I could let down my guard and the tears came, finally getting that – for that night – we saved his life.
He had/has an incredible business. He created an entirely new, efficient, high quality product and in less than a year his business had about 40% of the market share and he couldn’t keep up. We all think that’s what we want, until we don’t know how to keep up, how to scale. That was *Jake’s challenge. Jake was charismatic, fun, interesting, intelligent, driven and an entrepreneur – we clicked immediately and he still never confided in me about his challenges and thoughts about taking his life.
When I think of my experience that day it makes me want to vomit. Seriously. The saving grace I had was my community. Friends who understood what was happening because either they or a friend had considered committing suicide. It was one of the most challenging days of my life at this point. I stood for someone’s life, and I am still standing for Jake and every other entrepreneur who can’t see a way out.
About 10 weeks ago, less than a year after Jake almost killed himself, there were 2 suicides and one death of startup founders under the age of 32. When I read about Josh Greenberg (Grooveshark), Faigy Mayergot (Appton), and Austen Heinz (Cambrian Genomics), I decided to be a stand for authentic entrepreneurship and create a community, a conversation and a movement to alleviate depression and suicide among founders, by sharing what’s real.
Impact Founder is a project to address the successes and challenges we face as entrepreneurs, and reduce the feelings of isolation. We completed our initial launch in Denver with a photography exhibit at Denver Startup Week. In a single week 7,000 entrepreneurs had a touchpoint with our exhibit. Next up, we are launching an exhibit in up to 10 communities around the country, and building a multimedia platform so founders across the globe can share through video, photos and with live chat. The mission is to give founders an opportunity to share authentically in their community of other founders, creating a global conversation to reduce suicide and depression in our community.
If Jake didn’t share with me, who knows what would’ve happened. That is why Impact Founder is dear to my heart, and why we aren’t stopping with Denver. Give to Impact Founder’s Kickstarter to help build a movement for authentic entrepreneurship and decrease depression and suicide among founders
Kristin Darga, Founder
*It’s a small community. Jake is a pseudonym adopted for privacy to honor him and respect his experiences.