1/ Especially when young, It’s less risky to be a founder than people think (assuming one has no debts or family to take care of— big assumptions). Relative to employees, founders get disproportionate amount of the following: a) Financial upside b) Network upside c) Credit
2/ People focus on the financial upside, but the other perks are disproportionate too. External facing founders are, in some sense, building their network all day (investors, hires, etc), and employees are basically building founders' network/credibility on their behalf.
3/ All networks that help founders in their next thing if the co implodes. Re: Credit. Companies are, sometimes, mini-religions + the founders are, sometimes, mini-deities. When people speak about the co they often tell the founding story, which becomes urban legend-like.
4/ The credit continues as the co grows. When you see a Facebook innovation, for example, your mind first goes to Zuck, not, say, Chris Cox. Not to say the founder doesn't deserve the credit, often they do, just remarking that it naturally gravitates towards them as a default.
5/ Even if you utterly fail, there’s a set of people that'll respect you for trying. There’s also a set that'll hate you for having&botching the opportunity in the first place. See: Clinkle (the founder seems to have raised money for his next thing, which proves both points)
6/ Although it’s less risky than it seems, it’s also *more* risky than it seems, but in non-obvious ways: You’ll have more stress, which is hard to put price on. Likely more loneliness. You’ll become intimately familiar w/ cognitive dissonance, self-doubt, + other side effects.
7/ You'll sacrifice short-medium term stability & peace of mind (maybe happiness) in exchange for a potential financial and impact outcome that is unlikely. You'll hope that the journey is its own reward, but it will be hard to appreciate it in the moment.
founding team / notable early employees also sometimes have disproportionate credit relative to these intangible but material factors (but often not financial).