muru-D startup accelerator Cookitoo

What it feels like when a $68b unicorn launches a competitor to your two person startup

A few weeks back Travis Kalanick, founder of Uber launched a competitor to Cookitoo, with $150mil of funding.  

Opinions of Travis aside (this article is not about that) he built one of the most successful and highly valued companies in the last decade and fundamentally changed the way people around the world think about transportation. Now he’s decided the next biggest challenge is food, and in particular food delivery.

I initially wrote this post the day I got the news but it’s only now I’m comfortable enough to share (3 min read)

I never check emails before 9am, but if something BIG comes through I’ll get a message on slack from Caroline (my co-founder). This particular morning I received said message. At 9:10am I opened the email from a mentor and it was a link to a Recode article, titled Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is taking over real estate

I opened it and started reading.

‘Travis Kalanick founder of Uber, the highest valued startup in the world at $68 billion has found his next gig as CEO of a new startup. Cloud Kitchens’. I’ve never felt so many simultaneous sensations, after getting to the bottom of the article I was out of my chair and out the door.

Trying not to throw up, holding back tears but grinning from ear to ear, I felt that swell of heat through my body that indicates fight or flight triggers.

First wave of emotions was realising that all my work, sweat and cans of tuna over the last 3 years was going to amount to nothing. The feeling of a light switch flicking and instantly dismissing everything you’ve built was so intense, and it still brings tears to my eyes writing this, and this first assault lasted about 5 minutes.

Second wave hit as I was striding through Hyde Park. ‘How could we compete with Travis?’ He’s someone I’d read about, heard about, watched and followed for years. Few conversations in start-up land pass without a mention of him or his company. They built a business worth nearly $70b in less than 10 years and changed an industry that everyone thought was ironclad. This is a founder who plays for keeps, and now we were going head to head.

Third wave, took a bit longer to hit but it was the realisation that Travis could do anything in the world, solve any problem, launch any business and he’s decided to build kitchens for food delivery?? He must see now what we saw 2 years ago. I broke into a massive grin, chuckled to myself a little then turned on heal and headed straight back to the office.

They say when you’re at the edge and your experiencing the emotions I described that’s when you’re really uncomfortable, and that’s exactly when you need to pick up the pace and run as hard as you can towards that feeling.

So message received Travis, let’s tango.