The Startup Glory Equation

Every now and then somebody will ask me what would be a super simple way to achieve startup glory? Not in the exact same terms but something that will lead towards that. I struggle with it because there are so many ways to succeed in a startup (depending on what the level of success is) and there are probably ten times that number of way to fail in a startup. The person who is asking also knows that but that hasn’t stopped him/her from asking for something simple.

While I know that there is no such startup glory equation that is FINAL and binding, here is an attempt at a starter version of “what could be” a startup glory equation

Startup Glory = Gut + Guts – Gutters


You need to start trusting more of it as there is no way to have ALL the data that is required to make a decision. In fact, you need to make a series of “reasonably informed” decisions throughout the life of a startup. This is true even if your startup is a copycat of an already existing startup as “your team” and “their team” and “your circumstances and “their circumstances” are quite different.


With the success rates of a typical startup being slim (less than 10% succeed) it is clear that you need a LOT of guts to embark on a startup journey. You will see the value of guts if you pose a question differently – “How open are you to take on a project if (put your money, bet your farm) if you knew that the failure rate for the project was 90% or more?” One has to be insane to get involved in a startup or in other words one has to have a LOT of guts.


German military strategist Helmuth von Moltke said it right – “No battle plan survives the contact with the enemy.” It is the same story with a startup – everything is fine and dandy until you take your offering to potential customers who have to agree to pay for your offering. Chances are that you will move towards gutters more than once and throughout the life of a startup. Sometimes gutters are right in front of you with warning signs all over the place but STILL you end up in one of them. Sometimes well wishers warn you about these gutters and you STILL end up in one of them. The “trick” is to know when to persist and when to pivot. That comes with experience and a few battle scars.

All the best!