Why Fuckup Nights Became a Social Enterprise
In the early days of Fuckup Nights it wasn’t cool to be us. We were the pest. It wasn’t cool to put Fuckup Nights on your Linkedin profile, sharing a failure was a sign of weakness, and even some of our friends sort of avoided us – fearful that we’d ask them to become a speaker.
We were the masochistic weirdos who liked to listen to stories of failure. And nobody really wanted to touch us. A former business partner of mine even said that their coworking space shouldn’t be related to Fuckup Nights. A space we co-founded!
Then, like most things that begin to blow up, we found an audience. We found a community. We became a little cool (for a small group of Mexico City hipsters and creators that is)
And with a little bit of growth came the opportunity to lose our independent thinking. People with power used to tell us that they would give us money, but only if we changed our name. Others invited us to their soapbox, as long as we didn’t mention the word “failure” (WTF).
When we started to spread the word on social media, we had people messaging us saying they had thought of committing suicide but saw new perspectives at a Fuckup Night on one side, and on the other, Not In My Backyard puritans from the U.S. commenting on our posts trying to teach us some “morals”.
And today, people want to push on us the simplistic fail fast mantra, or the even worse, failure will lead you to success. All sorts of messages that, instead of being vulnerable and sharing failures, are just contributing to unrealistic expectations of failure and success.
We have learned that the only way to deeply impact this mentality, and the world, is to stay true to our purpose and values, even when it hurts in the beginning. That’s why we want to pay salaries on our own terms, remaining as independent as possible by not bending over to sponsors or investors.
We could take the easy route, cashing in on the fail fast trend to get exposure and recognition. But we don’t want to just be “In Vogue” for a little while, only to disappear with zero impact.Instead, we’re taking the long, and sometimes difficult road of helping people and organizations become vulnerable and empathetic.
I know. It doesn’t sound like the next hyper-growth unicorn that’s going to disrupt disruption and democratize whatever – and that’s perfectly fine for us. Sorry, not sorry.
To be in it for the long-haul, we need our revenue to be free of money with short vision. We need to be true to the communities we serve, and that sometimes means slowing down or pivoting hard.
Purpose Not Profits
We’re not here to squeeze out profits, and we don’t want to bring people with this perspective on board.
Some of us still have a negative balance from the money invested to create Fuckup Nights, another one went 14 months without a salary, many are making less money than what they’d make working for a corporation. But we’re having a balanced and fulfilled life being the change we want to see in the world.
Growth for the sake of growth is the definition of cancer. We want to keep growing organically, based on the value we add to our communities and partners.
We’ve received investment offers, but we’d never work with a financial intermediary that uses only one metric for success: financial returns. We are not building this monster to sell it or make it public in 7 years.
We wake up every morning excited for the impact we help create, and how we live our lives.
So when I get asked “why are you using the social enterprise model” this is precisely why. We want to build an organization that lasts 100 years. An organization that can be as impactful and independent as possible, using the system we live in. An organization that is focused on purpose, not profits.
And we’d love for you to come join us.
See you in the Fuckup Future.
Fuckup Nights CEO
Pepe Villatoro is a globally awarded serial entrepreneur. He has created 5 companies, and was the WeWork Director for Latin North America. Currently, he is the co-founder and CEO of Fuckup Nights, a movement present in 330 cities in 90 countries, and collaborates with governments and companies to help create a shift in mindset. He loves travel, a good meal, and good conversations.