“1 on ten start-ups will be a success, 2 or 3 will survive more than 3 years and the remaining start-ups will fail”. Welcome in the start-up world.
So it began, more or less one year ago, my start-up journey. I was amazed by those stats I heard from the very beginning, but that excited me even more. Indeed, because all around us triumph is made more visible than failure, we overestimate our chance of success. And rightly so, the entrepreneur journey is already hard enough and – without optimism – almost impossible to bear.
The months that followed, I was caught in this start-up hype of people using Facebook, Uber, Tesla and Apple as examples of how we should manage our start-up. I was taught that we should set the bar high and have great expectations, but is this generated pressure really so healthy? Shouldn’t we adapt our speech for the 99% of the start-ups that will not become that great? Or for the 90% that will not be considered as a success? These 90% of start-ups that will not deliver the 10x return after 5 years, something that all venture capitalists are looking for.
To be honest, I’ve struggled with this, having a hardware start-up where scalability is a big issue. I knew that it would be very difficult for Konligo to realise that 10x return, but the pressure was high. Almost every person I met was urging me to define a business model where I could prove that I could realise this 10x return, that Konligo was the next “biggest tent producer worldwide”.
So I spent some months breaking my head and convincing myself that Konligo could do it, and that caused me more harm than good. Even though I have the greatest team members I could wish for, I began to feel demotivated and wasn’t looking at the real facts anymore, because I was “haunted” by this factor 10. “If we don’t meet that expectation Konligo will be a failure” I thought.
Until I let the pressure go. Until I realised that this wasn’t the reason why we started Konligo, why I was part of this adventure. I wasn’t part of this adventure because I wanted to sell the company in 5 years, cashing tons of money. Money has never been my motivation. I wasn’t part of this adventure to be in the Fortune 500, not at all. I was part of this adventure because I believed people would be impressed, fascinated and even finding it kind of magical to see our structures being deployed. You know the facial expression a child has when he discovers something fascinating? Well I wanted to see the same expression on adults’ faces when they see our structure. And this is still my motivation. So why would I care about the 10x return in 5 years?
At that moment I felt relieved, and I was able to think rationally again. We looked at the facts, and we found a business model that was in concordance with our team’s motivation and expertise. Our dedicated team and unique 15-years research expertise on the field gives us such a head-start compared to all our competitors that we don’t have to focus on this magical “barrier” of “5 years”. As a matter of fact, we only hear about the companies in the Fortune 500 when they are famous, and we tend to forget that most of them had a hard start.
Will Konligo not be considered a start-up success if we don’t reach the 10x return after 5 years? Well so be it. What is the definition of a start-up anyway? I prefer to define Konligo as a SME (Small-Medium Enterprise) with an amazing and motivated team that is discovering and loving the exciting adventure of entrepreneurship. And what I know for sure is that we will do everything we can to extend this adventure for quite some years! And that, dear reader, is my start-up world.