You Are Not Your Startup

How do we separate our egos from our work? Just ask the unicorpse.

Andy Dunn
2 min readJan 26, 2024
The cover of Fortune a decade later.

I hoped one day to make the cover of Fortune — just not for writing an article summarized on that cover as “Lessons from a founder at the crossroads of failure” next to a picture of a unicorpse.

The past four years I’ve been working on a startup that hasn’t worked. Yet.

In between now and “yet”, it’s been the typical rollercoaster. Today Fortune published an essay I wrote on the journey. It begins with this prologue:

Somewhere I heard that a startup doesn’t fail when it fails. It fails when the founders give up.

In this “money is no longer free” market, that begs two questions: When should founders give up? And how should those founders manage their psychology while seeking the answers to such a momentous question?

The piece will be published in print in the February/March 2024 issue of Fortune under the title of “Face to face with failure.” The editor-in-chief at Fortune came up with an alt-title today, spontaneously, which I loved:

You are not your startup.

I asked Alyson if I could steal it. She said sure.

They say entrepreneurship is sometimes theft — ”borrowing” ideas from a corner of the present, making them the future, and then taking the credit.

Maybe being a writer is sometimes similar?

In light of all going on in academia, journalism, and AI, maybe too soon…

Proof of theft:

A few ways to get to the article:

I’ve been impressed with the team at Fortune. From Alyson, to the features editor Matt Heimer who suggested the piece, and my recently recruited friend Jason Del Rey, it seems a terrific team.

It would have to be to come up with the term unicorpse.



Andy Dunn

Spirit animal @bonobos, swan hunter @redswan, brother @monicaandandy. I love cilantro but love even more the people that hate it