The Inside Story of an Enterprise’s Sudden, Painful Collapse — Knowledge

No More Fridge was about to disappear.

On a cold late winter night in Brooklyn, it was almost midnight, and there was little action in the failed venture’s once bustling grocery distribution center. But Pavel Danilov, CEO of Fridge No More, couldn’t resist the urge to scatter.

It could be the muscle memory he’s developed after working out 16 hours a day, seven days a week, over the past two years. Or maybe it was the faint hope that a buyer would raid at the last second and save the delivery company in 15 minutes, which he and his Russian co-founder Anton Gladkoborodov thought would be the ticket to success in the US.

For the next hour, Danilov ignored the fact that every package of bananas, loaves of bread, and chips around him would never arrive at a customer’s doorstep. Even though the 450 delivery workers had already done their last job, he continued to move the food to the correct shelves and make sure the refrigerators were properly closed. “It didn’t really make sense,” said Danilov, looking at that bottom line last March. “I didn’t want my shop to look like garbage.”

As the downturn in the tech industry worsens, a growing number of startup founders are facing a new sense of panic and insecurity during the boom periods from 2020 to 2022. “In the next 20 months, 50 to 60 percent of all early-stage companies will go bankrupt,” Niko Bonatsos, general manager of General Catalyst, recently told Kate Clark of The Information. “It will be a very sad situation.”

Many of these companies’ founders may soon find themselves navigating an entrepreneurial dimension that gets less attention than triumphant success stories or explosive scandals: desperate last months searching for a lifeline; waves of anxiety and disappointment as thin hopes of survival fade; and possibly the awkwardness of settling into a new job where they’re no longer the boss.

The story of Fridge No More’s final days, first told here, offers a glimpse into this unfortunate reality for founders who believe they’ve got the next big thing but discover their business is more vulnerable to threats than before. idea. Danilov and Gladkoborodov had developed a product that customers enjoyed and watched revenue grow for months.

However, with investors withdrawing funding and the era of easy money waning in the background, little prepared them for the next step. It’s a story that’s been repeated many times in the boom and bust cycles of technology: the story of the founders who came to the party too late.

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