Mike Cannon-Brookes together with his co-founder Scott Farquhar have done what most startup founders only dream of – they’ve beat the odds and built a successful tech company from scratch – getting extremely rich in the process.
But that feeling of struggling and always trying to do more doesn’t disappear when you’re at the top, Cannon-Brookes explained at the Sydstart tech conference this week.
“Some days it feels like we’re checking every single box to make sure we’ve screwed up in every way possible,” he said.
“We’ve caused a lot of people a lot of pain and have had to do a lot of making up for that over the years and I think any successful startup probably has.
“You cannot get it right all the time in a company that is growing at a big enough rate.
“If you can’t smell the fire burning you probably haven’t sniffed hard enough in a growth company.”
Atlassian is almost 13 years old and can no longer be called a startup but Cannon-Brookes said despite all the success he still feels like a “sham” some days.
“You move up this weird totem pole of entrepreneurs where you get to meet more and more interesting people and you get to these weird points where you’re so excited to meet them cause you think ‘wow I’ve read about this person 40 times’ just to get a half-hour coffee is amazing and then they turn up and feel the same way and you’re like ‘wow this is weird’,” he said, adding “I feel like a sham.”
“Someone is going to turn up with a check list with the fraud police one day at my door and be like ‘you’ve been faking it for ten years, we’re here to take your badge off you’ and I’m going to go ‘sh*t, sorry, you caught me, here’s my badge’,” he said jokingly.