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Starting a Tech-Startup – The Three Most Underestimated Success Factors for Startups
by Miro Mayer, Startup Coach at Bluelion
There are obvious success factors when it comes to building up a startup from scratch: you need a great idea, a working business model, and a total addressable market that is big enough to eventually scale your business.
While working with a lot of pre-seed startups during our acceleration program over the past years, we discovered a set of traits that are less obvious but, as I would argue, even more critical to success than the factors mentioned above – especially at a very early stage.
One of the most consistent success factors we identified is a broad understanding of the industry a startup gets into. Ideally, at least one of the founders worked in said industry for at least a couple of years and has a deep understanding of the peculiarities, challenges, and opportunities within the industry. The founder team not only gains an unfair advantage in terms of which pain points exist in the industry but also has a more realistic and thought-trough approach towards solving those pain points compared to founders that are new to the industry. Another big advantage of knowing the industry is the network of potential customers, partners, and investors that you can tap into. This allows you faster feedback and sales cycles compared to needing to build up a reputation and network from scratch.
Those who have founded a company out of strong personal motivation tend to be more gritty and determined than founders who “just” identified a business opportunity. Having experienced the problem you are going to solve yourself and deeply care about it is a huge boost to your perseverance, especially when the road gets bumpy – which eventually will happen to every startup. Having the willpower and grit to push further even after receiving dozens of rejections from potential clients and investors is one of the main characteristics that sets successful founders apart. As a common quote in entrepreneurship points out appropriately: Hustle until you no longer need to introduce yourself.
While industry insights and personal motivation may set the initial course for a successful business, eventually a lot comes down to the people that are setting sail together with you. We saw over and over again how the right co-founder team can make or break an early-stage startup. The co-founders should be able to build and sell at least the first version of the product by themselves. Next to the skillset, more nuanced and, therefore, often neglected factors like personal values, long-term vision, current life situation, and working style are equally important. Having deep and personal conversations about those topics early on gives you the trust and edge to build the next big thing, no matter what obstacles you face along the journey.
Now, why are those traits more important than a great idea, a clever business model, and an attractive market? These factors are sheer concepts that you can adjust, tweak, iterate, or even pivot away from when you realize that it doesn’t work out as planned. On the other hand, your real assets like your past experiences, your personal grit, and the quality of your co-founders, are the core pillars of your venture. Ultimately, your startup will be built around those assets and not the other way around.