To me, the word startup is starting to lose meaning. It becomes too much of a buzzword that people started to forget how it all usually began: In a garage, born from a burning passion of one or two people. It was never the millions of angel money or the big buy out. It was never the fastest way of being rich or an overnight success. It was about creative people reaching out their dreams even if it mean letting everything go.
But years of hard work and dedication falls flat in the eye of media, it’s too common and not newsworthy in comparison to massive early fundings, the grand acquisition exit, the so called overnight success or utter failure. These numerous and rather daily news of funding and acquisitions create a new breed of startups: The spoiled little startups.
Spoiled little startups have a distorted mindset that doing a digital startup is a get-rich-fast scheme, or an easy way out of their miserable corporate lives. Startups are now the mythical gold mine in the new era of gold rush. History proves that the ones that won the gold rush are the ones that took advantage around it.
Spoiled little startups do not want to start without proper funding, do not have a feasible (or at least realistic) business model. They want the money upfront with a plan to pay themselves too much from the funding money they don’t have. They think investors are business model (true story bro) and they don’t solve any problem. They spend more time pitching and going to conferences than actually building a product.
Have you noticed these types of patterns on the startups around you? I’ve seen my fair share of them and it’s appalling. It’s a laughing matter to hear about it once or twice but it’s worrying to keep hearing about them. Believe me that I’m not the only one being disappointed.
So what can we do to change it?
If you think you’re one of the spoiled little startups, then congrats in admitting the problem. I suggest you follow these steps to change your mindsets and get you back in the game.
- Conferences are mostly a waste of time, concentrate on making the best product.
- Funding is not everything. You don’t need that much money to start in the first place.
- Stop the marketing bullshit. Demo your products and make people love them. Don’t have a decent product? See no. 1.
- Have a realistic business model from day 1. Business that doesn’t make money is not a business, it’s a hobby.
- Business is hard work, never ever think you can have an overnight success.
- If you’re in it for the money, don’t do startups. Work for oil or multinational company instead.
If you’re a Venture Capitalist, Angel or some sort:
- Tell them the truth, it hurts but at least they would learn from it.
In the end, I still think startup is an overrated and overused word. So start a business, not a startup*.
*Reference from rework.
The article was published in 2012 from Aria Rajasa’s personal blog and being republished by permission of original author.
Aria Rajasa is the CEO of Tees Indonesia. His passion in entrepreneurship has gotten him to establish a number of companies in technology and design industries since leaving university.