Founder Wellness: the modern Startup secret sauce

Jason Lin
5 min readJul 8, 2021

Before I begin my blog series on the future of technology and ideas to watch over the next decade, I’d like to explain how I got here.

Most of you are probably wondering, so who’s Jason? Who are you to “preach” about tech when almost everyone today is in some way shaped by changes brought by technological disruptions (and in authority to discuss them) for better or worse?

It’s been over 5 years since I won my first hackathon at the University of Michigan. Twenty-five hackathons and a dozen accolades (@Facebook, Stanford, UCLA) later, I’m sitting here wondering what went wrong during my first stint to bring to life a startup idea I so desperately thought revolutionary.

As a technical founder, I’ve built numerous products at Spotify, Apple, Lyft, and prototypes that went into production (aka “were adopted”) by the biggest tech giants — a smarter Siri, IoT-connected smart speakers, multiparty VR controls, etc. After owning a team’s work at Alphabet’s Moonshot Factory, formerly known as Google[x], I’d surely learned what it takes to build a venture from zero to one, bootstrapping or hatching if you will, a business from scratch.

So I decided to build Faber, a food discovery app that married the best of Netflix and Yelp with on-device AI. With a small team of exceptional talent, in 4 months we have a full-fledge MVP, but the business prospect fumbled when partner restaurants had to endure the roughest closure in years. I naively thought the product should speak for itself and gave in after single-handedly coding most core features and calling the hard decisions “in simulation”. I hadn’t listen to customers during a time of immense change and failed to take care of myself on the path of execution. In my oath to landing a live product, I was half-right. As with most organizations, not every project gets to see the light of the day, but what gets to have the final say? Is it the idea?

Let me borrow my multicultural context from interfacing China’s tech scene for a number of years. Unlike over at Beijing or Shenzhen where investors are looking for the “best idea” and that the “best…