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Personal Health

Reddit's Alexis Ohanian on Dealing With Tragedy While Starting a Business

Former Managing Editor
6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Starting a business is hard enough in the best of times. In the worst of times, it can be impossible.

That’s why it’s so important to have a strong support system, says Alexis Ohanian, the 32-year-old co-founder of Reddit.

In 2005, when he was just launching Reddit, Ohanian experienced a series of traumatic events: his girlfriend at the time had fallen from the window of her fifth-floor apartment and was in a coma. Shortly after, his family dog died.

When he thought things couldn’t get worse, they did: his mom was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. She died in March of 2008.

Ohanian opened up about his suffering in a 2010 blog post:

There were some dark months there, like living in the middle of an interminable fog. Upon reflection, I was probably suffering from depression for most of that startup. If you happened to meet me during that time, you probably wouldn't have known it.

Ohanian says he was lucky to have had the unwavering support of his family, even during their own suffering. Today, he recommends that all entrepreneurs take the time to invest in their mental, emotional and physical health.

“If you are not doing the things you need to do for yourself, you’re effectively not doing the things you need to do for your company,” he said during an interview at the Entrepreneur360 Conference in New York City.

Check out the video above to learn more.


Stress, Anxiety, Loneliness: How This Entrepreneur Lost Himself and Bounced Back Stronger

More Entrepreneurs Are Coming Out About Depression, Seeking Support Online

Running a Business While Dealing With a Personal Loss

What Reddit Co-Founder Alexis Ohanian Learned From Working at Pizza Hut


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