Over poker one night, we got to talking about what we always talk about: entrepreneurship. Out of a table of 10, four work at start-ups, three are at Google, one is a high-tech lawyer, one works as a medical correspondent for CNN, and then there’s me, a hybrid. I had just got done working on Yakezie.com for three hours after working an 11 hour day, and needless to say, I was a little bit tired.
I love going to Friday night poker mainly because I get to bounce ideas off of really smart and incredibly hard working people. When I hear stories of one start-up player working from 7am to 3am every night for two weeks straight to launch a product offering, I get pumped. When the Venture Capitalist player recounts his firm rejecting a pitch by Tim Westergren, Pandora’s founder in 2008, I wince, but daydream in amazement.
Down about $185 for the evening, I started lamenting what the money will cost in side hustling. A couple hours of work at least, I thought. How depressing, thanks to my opponent’s King on the river against my pocket Queens! I quickly shifted to more pleasant thoughts about the future of start-ups and posed this question in between hands to my fellow sharks:
Would you rather make $15-000-$30,000 a month and “work” only 2-4 hours a day? Or, would you rather make minimum wage working 12-18 hours a day for two years with a 25% chance of selling your business for $100 million dollars and netting yourself a cool $25 million? If you don’t, all you are left with are your experiences.
I purposefully left the question open-ended to see what the various responses would be. Already, one was doing math equations of what the capitalized value of $15,000-$30,000 a month would be based on an expected life expectancy compared to the expected value of the big payout. After all, we calculate expected value all the time in poker. Instead, I encouraged my fellow players to stop calculating and go with their gut.
Surprisingly, or perhaps not to be unexpected, every single one of them chose option 2: the big potential payout. A couple of the entrepreneurs have a $100 million dollar buyout goal in mind, which I find somewhat delusional, but maybe not with Zynga, Youtube, and a host of other companies getting valued in the billions!
As the night wore on, I finally heard someone take the other side after losing $690 in a $2,600 4-way pot when his straight got flushed out.
“Well, $30,000 a month for working only a couple hours a day isn’t so bad. I think I’ll go with that.”
Readers, what path would you choose? Go with your gut!