Ambition for a Start-up

I was talking with a friend recently. He had been thinking through a few ideas for his start-up. As we walked through them, it became clear that some ideas were incremental (and less risky) and some were disruptive (and much more risky). Which ideas should be focused on? While there are many other factors which will determine the eventual choice, the point I made was that the probability of failure in every early stage venture is the same (more than 90%) and so since one is going to spend the next few years of life working on the venture, one might as well try and be as ambitious as possible.

For this, one has to keep the fear of failure aside. Even though all entrepreneurs think they will succeed, the reality is that most ventures either die or end up as what I call the “living dead.” Of course, no entrepreneur will think they will end up at the bottom of the pile and this is what keeps the innovation and start-up ecosystem flourishing. So, it is important to understand the worst case scenario (loss of time and money) and then start thinking about the mountains (beyond mountains) that one needs to climb. Here is where the sights need to set high. It takes almost similar effort (and luck) to pull off big wins at the stage one is as it makes to do the small ones.