The Startup Success Delusion That Put Me In Hospital

Time for some real talk.

In 2016, I was rushed to hospital with internal bleeding - my stress levels from running a venture-capital startup played a large part in this.

The experience made me question many things in my life - my health, my happiness and my business.

I first wrote about this in 2016 when it happened, and now I'm pleased to be able to add some clarity and a happy ending four years later.

This experience was a huge motivator for me discovering this very community and taking an indie approach to entrepreneurship.

I hope my story can help you find happiness and fulfilment.



  1. 4

    The more I read stories like these, the more I realize that the "kill yourself to build a unicorn, otherwise you're just worthless scum" mentality is propagated by VCs and investors who have their best interest in mind, not yours.

    I'm so glad you came out of this unscathed and even turned your life around to take profit on happiness right now instead of postponing the whole thing to some indeterminate time in the future that may never come.

    Gravity is a brilliant idea, and I'm glad it's taking off and helping you achieve your life goals.

    1. 2

      Thanks Jay! VC's definitely play a large part in it - although not all of them. My investors were not like this but they are the exception not the rule. The tech media too - it's a huge problem but it's been awesome to see so many people taking the alternative route - especially in software.

    2. 1

      Why would VC care about you as a founder, you’re HIGHLY replaceable 🤷🏻‍♂️

  2. 2

    Man, great article! It's easy to get carried away and work your ass off. Especially when you judge yourself with norms and values that aren't truly yours. 😎

    1. 1

      Thanks for reading Maeva :)

  3. 2

    Reads first section
    Jesus Christ

  4. 1

    Can you give me specializationin medcine and haw i can bee good doctor

  5. 1

    Awesome story man, so pleased you're now on the right track!

    There truly is a toxic culture around entrepreneurship, it's like people are trying to run sprint speeds for a marathon, it's just not sustainable long term.

  6. 1

    Thanks for sharing @kylegawley. Very important topic that I think still isn't shared often enough.

  7. 1

    Good writing! - especially for a nerd. Great (true) story, too.

  8. 1

    Thanks for writing this and sharing your story. Definitely a good wake up call and reminder to take care of our health. Glad it all worked out for you :)

  9. 1

    Definitely a worth read. I have never built my own company with VC. But I was a CTO in one, from the start. And it was brutal. My CEO went into meetings with the VC every week. And most of the times, I see how he dreaded going to those meetings.

    I also see what it really takes to run a startup that is VC-backed. Long hours, presentation after presentation, meetings after meetings. Some are for corporate sales. Some are for joint ventures. Some are for fund raising. Some I have no idea what they are for.

    Also, I guess it depends on the VC that you get, that I don't think the term sheet was really that fair for us. But when we got them, we were arriving at the end of our runway, and that was the only offer we got.

    But anyway, seeing all that, I come to two realization:

    1. I have huge respect for my CEO.

    2. I thought that I would not want that for myself. I prefer the 4-hour week lifestyle. Although I am still working to make that work for me.

    1. 2

      I have a folder somewhere with 100s of presentations 😁 Life was constant meetings, while watching the people I hired do all the fun work I used to enjoy 😂

  10. 1

    That stuff can sneak up on you, man. Happy it ended well for you, even though you had to go through some hardship in order to get there.

  11. 1

    Read the whole thing. I'm so happy that you found closure after going through such a stressful thing. When it comes to health, we almost never realize how much stress we lay onto ourselves. And that compounds and compounds. It's the worst feeling ever, it's like you can't wake up feeling fresh anymore. I'm in the weeds with building my startup as well and I take your experience to heart knowing that this could have well been me. Thanks for sharing this and, btw, Gravity looks awesome!

    1. 1

      Thank you for reading Arrigo – I hope it helps you on your journey :)

  12. 1

    What a great read, thanks for sharing your story!

    How has Covid impacted the digital nomad community, if at all?

    1. 1

      Yeah, most people are more or less stuck where they have been for most of 2020. I've written this year off, hopefully 2021 is a bit more flexible.

  13. 1

    Wow, that's a hell of a story. I'm in the trenches at the moment slugging through the dark part of building my next couple of projects so this is just what I needed to read. My plan is to work hard over the next year, get in shape and, hopefully by then it will be safe to travel and I will head to SEA for my own little adventure. Keep up the great work!

    1. 1

      Awesome, I'd definitely recommend SEA - it's also a great place to work from, lots of communities and co-working spaces.

  14. 1

    Everything has a price. Thanks for the very inspiring article, you 've done great.

    1. 1

      Thank you - glad you enjoyed it :)

  15. 1

    Great article, really from the heart

  16. 1

    Hey @kylegawley, awesome story! Thanks for sharing!

    1. 1

      Thank you for reading!

  17. 1

    Great story Kyle! Health is definitely super important and this is a good reminder

  18. 1

    Awesome stroy Kyle. People need to read these more! As an engineer and first time entrepreneur, I was also very much influenced by everyday news of funding rounds. Until after 2 years of wasting my time chasing VCs and stressing my family, I realized I was doing it wrong. Keep going dude ! Feel free to add bitcoin payments, should definitely give you a revenue jump !

  19. 1

    Great post. actually staying health is most important thing for us. love from japan.

  20. 1

    Great read. Glad to hear you're doing better now.

    I saw the startup life wreck the health of someone I know, stomach issues also from stress. Won't write too much here but yeah, that was so eye opening and I always make time for myself now.

    1. 1

      Thanks Alex - I hope your friend recovered?

      1. 1

        I mean, yes physically, but definitely it took something out of him. A kind of burnout I would say that has stuck for 4ish years now

  21. 1

    This was a fantastic read, Kyle! Thanks for sharing your story. I'm happy things worked out for you in the end.

    1. 1

      Thank you for reading :)

  22. 1

    Stomach issues are the absolute worst. Sorry that happened to you but glad you came out on top. Love the ending!

    1. 1

      Thank you Allison! :)

  23. 1

    Hi Kyle, nice write up. It's always good to read stories like yours as we must never leave behind what really matters: health and being happy. Looks like you fully recovered from your bad moments. Good to know.

    I have a very similar story, where I went to hospital due to my stressed life and realised I should focus on health first. But along the way, I was hit by "success", making good money and working whatever I wanted to.

    At the end, like you also realised, all of that "success" was illusory.

    Thank you for sharing.

    1. 1

      Thanks Leo - I remember reading your story a few months back - thank you for sharing.

  24. 1

    This was a fantastic post and makes me want to root for your success! I'm glad Chiang Mai and travel in general helped so much. Great read.

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