In Memoriam

Raise Your Glass to the Deadpool at ‘Startup Funeral’ This September

Startups are dead! Long live startups!
screen shot 2012 08 22 at 3 04 54 pm Raise Your Glass to the Deadpool at Startup Funeral This September

(Photo: Startupfuneral.co)

Startup parties tend to focus on the positive. Launches, app releases and acquisitions, oh my! It’s a freaking party, after all. But the flip side also deserves to be commemorated. With booze. So goes the logic behind Startup Funeral. “Join us as we pay respects to our dearly departed startups who have left us for the deadpool,” says the site, with a link to an event on September 21st that promises to do just that.

The wickedly clever idea was masterminded by Android developer Kevin Galligan, who then teamed up with four of his fellow entrepreneurs out of New Work City, a co-working space in Chinatown: Leo Newball, Jr., Jason Kende, Valerie Lisyansky and Jason Nadaf. “Work time: 45 minutes; Discussion Time: 2 months+,” Mr. Newball told Betabeat by Gchat when we asked how it took them to build the site.

Founders representing the deceased startups will have a chance to speak for five minutes about whatever they want–lessons learned, plugging their new venture–but the aim is to have a good time. “So the idea [for] Startup Funeral started as a Viking funeral–drinking with a burning effigy as they would in the grand old times when the Vikings ruled the sea. Then the idea morphed. Why not an Irish funeral? Why not a marching band?” Mr. Newball explained. “We want to be clear it’s primarily a party; the learning experience is way down the list.”

“An effigy falls in the middle of that,” he added, noting “potential fire permits.” If all goes well, the group plans on hosting more funerals under different themes. For the kickoff in September, they’re toying with the idea of featuring bagpipe players. “If you happen to know one, that would be awesome!” Mr. Newball said.

We weren’t sure how seriously to take the concept. After all, the companies peeking out of the coffin on Startup Funeral’s homepage–Hashable and Digg–have their share of detractors. Were they (gently) mocking these companies’ demise or do the creators ascribe to Startupland’s “fail fast,” school of thought? “This is a stage of life we’re recognizing. And the message is failure is par for the course,” he said. “So, self-mocking, yes, but in good humor. Each startup has a ‘launch party,’ funny how none of them have the opposite when things don’t go well.”

Sounds kinda heavy for a party theme. “That’s what booze is for,” Mr. Newball explained. “Everyone deals with grief in different ways.”

“Plus,” he added, “We’re trying to derail Startup Weekend.” Did we detect a beef, after all the build-a-business weekend event was being hosted at AlleyNYC, a new rival co-working space in Midtown? “No, not really,” he said with a laugh, “But I’m sure there will be a few people who may be interested who start Startup Weekend Saturday with shades on.”

The group is still putting together a guest list of speakers. “We are reaching out to Hashable ASAP. We consider Digg in zombie mode, so they aren’t quite ready yet for a eulogy, but we will have some ‘honorable mentions’ throughout the evening. Consider it a compliment.” As a group of freelancers, entrepreneurs and founders, Mr. Newball said every one of Startup Funeral’s creators has sympathy for the dead. “We all have experience with failures … and each one rough in varying degrees.”

The experience of getting this idea off the ground has been not unlike a building a startup. “Kevin [Galligan] keeps reminding all of us (even while writing this), ‘Just get it launched and we’ll figure the rest later!'” Here’s hoping we don’t have to go to the Funeral’s funeral.

Follow Nitasha Tiku on Twitter or via RSS. ntiku@observer.com