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.

2 thoughts on “Ambition for a Start-up

  1. As a Startup, I would not venture out with an idea that is v.obviously incremental. My own experience tells me that for a Startup, racing a large(r) organization to market is a sure lost cause.

    Whenever I watch “Triumph of the Nerds”, it never fails to surprise me how the home PC vision was missed by smart people from HP, Xerox Parc, IBM and several other organizations.

    For a few years, Apple, Microsoft and several other Startups had the opportunity to grow out of the adolescent phase to a more sustainable position.

    Of course, not every idea is a Home PC. At the same time, not every idea is suitable for a Startup.

    ~ Santosh

  2. An entrepreneur who is about to enter the world of Startups needs to be a patient suffering from “Split-minded personality” disorder. I think it would help to think high/positive about the idea and will turn critic the very next moment. Sorry to sound sarcastic, but thats the need of the hour and I could not find a better analogy.