At twenty-eight, fresh from the Stanford MBA Program and steeped in the move-fast-and-break-things ethos of Silicon Valley, Andy Dunn was on top of the world. He was building a new kind of startup — a digitally native, direct-to-consumer brand — out of his Manhattan apartment. Bonobos was a new-school approach to selling an old-school product: men’s pants. Against all odds, business was booming.
Hustling to scale the fledgling venture, Dunn raised tens of millions of dollars while boundaries between work and life evaporated. As he struggled to keep the startup afloat, Dunn was haunted by a ghost: a diagnosis of bipolar disorder he received after a frightening manic episode in college, one that had punctured the idyllic veneer of his midwestern upbringing. He had understood his diagnosis as an unspeakable shame that — according to the taciturn codes of his fraternity, the business world, and even his family — should be locked away.
As Dunn’s business began to take off; however, some of the very traits that powered his success as a founder — relentless drive, confidence bordering on hubris, and ambition verging on delusion — were now threatening to undo him. A collision course was set in motion, and it would culminate in a night of mayhem — one poised to unravel all that he had built.
Burn Rate is an unconventional entrepreneurial memoir, a parable for the twenty-first-century economy, and a revelatory look at the prevalence of mental illness in the startup community. With intimate prose, Andy Dunn fearlessly shines a light on the dark side of success and challenges us all to take part in the deepening conversation around creativity, performance, and disorder.