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CEO of 6 companies: ‘I cry more than the average person’

Ben Lamm argues that Silicon Valley startup success stories have been overly praised by the media.

Ben Lamm knows well about starting a startup. Because of the fact that he has launched 6 startups.

Over the past two decades, the 40-year-old entrepreneur has built and sold several startups, including AI product builder Hypergiant, online educational software company Simply Interactive, and digital game company Team Chaos and Conversable – an AI-based conversational platform.

Last year, Lamm announced the launch of its sixth startup, Colossal Biosciences, a biotech company that hopes to revive woolly mammoths with gene editing. Earlier this month, the company announced it had raised $60 million in a Series A round. Lamm took over as CEO of Colossal Biosciences.

Why Colossal Biosciences CEO Ben Lamm wants to de-glorify start-ups

Basically, building startups has been Lamm’s full-time job for many years now. However, he thinks his work has been over-praised in the mass media. Success stories in Silicon Valley rarely point to the dark side of building a business from scratch.

That’s why he wants people to stop “fantasizing” startups. “I don’t know if that’s necessarily a compliment to call someone an entrepreneur,” Lamm said.

“Perhaps I cry more than the average person. I’m a very sensitive person,” Lamm said. According to Lamm, building a startup means sacrificing a lot of time for your family, possibly traveling “more than 200 days a year”, sleeping very little and constantly being tense because of controversies in the meeting room as well as shareholder conflicts. Starting a business means grappling with breakdowns, he says, and there are times when you’ll cry or feel completely drained.

According to him, for one to be successful as an entrepreneur, first of all, your belief and passion for your business idea must outweigh all those difficult challenges. You should also always be ready to hear the answer “No” – from investors, business partners, and even family or friends.

Ben Lamm (L) and Andrew Busey co-founded Conversable, a conversational intelligence platform start-up based in Dallas which was acquired by LivePerson in 2018.

“I often hear ‘No’. You just have to keep moving forward,” Lamm said.

Over time, Lamm has learned to build the habit of creating the necessary breaks, as he finds it difficult to “turn off” the work regimen. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Lamm has limited his commute to “truly necessity” and instead allows himself to take more frequent vacations.

While on vacation, the CEO limits himself to spending just two hours each morning looking at emails and Slack messages. For the rest of the day, he’s away from connected devices.

Lamm also gave up “mostly” alcohol and caffeine to help sleep better and work more efficiently. Now, he usually sleeps 7 hours a night – a big difference from the previous Lamm – who often sacrifices sleep for work.

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