Spending time on the wrong work is infinitely more deadly than just not spending enough time at your desk. Copying the perceived American startup culture of being in the office as much as possible is a recipe for burnout and blind alleys, not success.

The startup culture you’ve described sounds like a failure of leadership above all else. If there’s no mission, no goal that everyone is motivated to follow, and particularly if everything seems lost because you’re running out of money, then why wouldn’t you just hang out watching football and playing games?

And even if you weren’t running out of money, if you could produce great products and succeed while having a better quality of life, why wouldn’t you do that, too?

It sounds like the biggest issue is not having found a real product that serves a real need, and executing on that. That’s not an issue of bums in seats; that’s not having a great team uniting around a purpose. Very probably, the startup was dead on day zero.

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