On his 34th birthday, Matt Munson was on the verge of what for many people is prime time on their career paths. But his startup had enough cash to survive just 87 more days, and every day felt heavier than the last.

A meteoric rise preceded his dramatic downward spiral. Two years earlier, in May 2012, Munson had launched Instacanvas, which let Instagram users sell their photos as canvas prints. In its first four days, the startup went from zero to 50,000 users, and within just a few months, it had amassed $1 million in revenue.

Munson’s timing seemed perfect. A month before he took Instacanvas out of beta, Facebook had acquired Instagram, and in less than a year the social media phenom would grow from 30 million to 100 million users. Munson, who had raised $1.7 million, was ready to tap into the ecosystem emerging around mobile photo sharing.

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