62 – Burnt out


It’s been two months since San Francisco.

The woman from the Embassy hasn’t been in touch since. Then came a spattering of investors getting back about the business plans I sent them. They all said no but they loved the video.

Jasmeet, our coder in India, is still coding. I’m struggling to reply when she has questions. I leave it a few of days. I’ve stopped reaching out to people completely, haven’t sent an email in weeks. And the money has gone. And my girlfriend’s moving out, we’re breaking up.

I’m burnt out.

Hi Simon,

I hope this email finds you well. I am delighted to let you know that your entry for the forthcoming Activate Tech talent day has been successful. Please can you prepare a pitch to present to our judging panel?


I stare at the email for a couple of minutes. Then I google the guy to see who he is and what I’d applied for. I close my emails, shut my eyes and forget about it. There’s just no way.

A few days later he sends another email. I don’t open it but I forward it to Paul.

“What’s this?” Paul replies. I explain how we’ve been narrowed down to ten start ups and we get the chance to pitch in front of five judges. If we get picked we then go on to present and pitch in front of a bunch of investors and 350 people the following day.

“Fuck. Ok. Shit. So what do we do!?” Paul replies.

“Someone who wasn’t us would book two days holiday, plan a presentation, and go and do it. I’m burnt out.” I say.

“I’ll do it.” Paul says.

For some reason I get so emotional I almost cry. Paul’s going to take care of it, that’s brilliant. I reply to Adam apologising for the delay but we’ve been out the country on business and of course we’ll do it.

I booked two days off work and go with Paul to the presentation but I stay sat in the audience. Paul wants to do a better job than the presentation I gave in San Francisco.

“That was fucking shit. Was it shit? How did I do?” He asks afterwards. He hadn’t enjoyed himself.

“Was good mate. Pretty much the same as the one I gave in San Fran.” I assure him.

“For FUCK sake.”

We don’t win. The guy that won already has funding, a team, a great product and 10,000 users. His video even has actors.

The next day I sit at home and wonder about my life. Do I want to do this? I want Story to exist so much. It will make the world a better place. But do I want to put in the work? I want to design. I’m a designer. But designing Story is only 5% of it.

The crowded mess of people struggling and begging with their stupid pitches fill me with anxiety. They don’t listen to the bullshit you’re saying, they’re just waiting to tell you their bullshit. Tech websites are full of articles written by smug founders preaching how hard it all is. How you have to give up your life. How you’ll fail three times before you figure it out.

I quieten my mind and listen to my heart. I think about being an underwater photographer. That feels like a good thing for me to be.

I book a two-day Scuba course.

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