Goodbye — Foundation Episode 8

Foundation is an eight-part documentary series about entrepreneurs at Station F–the world’s largest startup campus–and all the pitfalls and triumphs they experience while establishing their businesses.

The final installment of Foundation is a satisfying bookend to the series. Episode eight’s opening sequence mirrors the way the very first episode began: with a startup founder describing her dreams and motivations while looking out over the glossy interior of Station F.

After eight episodes, the voice is now familiar–it’s Loubna Ksibi, founder of Meet My Mamas–and her words are now understood within the full context the work she’s demonstrated throughout the documentary. Ksibi fills the immense space of Station F with the size of her declared goals. She wants to have Mamas everywhere. The world, she says, is waiting for her to conquer it.

Yet no founder can maintain that daring optimism one hundred percent of the time. We see Jasmine Anteunis, Recast.AI founder, slumped on a leather couch, her eyes downcast. She admits that she’s been feeling weary: “I’m tired now. It has made me… Yeah, I’m tired. When you think that everything you do could fall apart from one day to the next, well. It’s crazy right?”

The founders of Les Sherpas can relate to Anteunis’ experience of feeling overwhelmed, as Foundation has captured moments when they’ve expressed similar sentiments. But in this episode, their energy is up. They’re rehearsing a pitch presentation, giddy with the excitement of presenting their idea–or, as they call it, their “intuition”–for the Sherpas product. They nail their final run-through, and it’s heartening to see them succeed.

From there, the episode cuts to Julian Holtzman of Torq Labs. He looks tentative, but strives to expresses conviction in what he is doing, despite some recent setbacks. Justin Swenson, Torq Labs’ other cofounder, left the company because they could no longer afford to keep him. Holtzman acknowledges the loss, but chooses to focus on the positive: he is working with a great product person, and he’s determined to move forward. “Because,” he says, “you know, what are you gonna do? Give up?” The answer, to him, is obvious: no.

This episode juxtaposes the CEOs experiencing elation with those feeling defeat, and conveys that all of the founders go through these phases at different points. Starting a company is a rollercoaster, which can be daunting. But there’s no other ride like it.

This Review was first published by All Turtles on June 8, 2018.