The Secrets to Startup Success with Bill Gross, Indepth talk on why startups succeed

The Secrets to Startup Success with Bill Gross, Indepth talk on why startups succeed

Bill Gross is the founder of Idealab, a business incubator focused on new ideas. (He’s now the chair and CEO.) He helped create, the first sponsored search company. He also created the Snap! search engine, which allows users to preview hyperlinks.

Gross has been an entrepreneur since high school, when he founded a solar energy company. In college, he patented a new loudspeaker design, and after school he started a company that was later acquired by Lotus, and then launched an educational software publishing company. Now, he serves on the boards of companies in the areas of automation, software and renewable energy.

Bill Gross is a smart guy. Twenty years ago he started Idealab. They have started over 100 companies. They have had some successes and many failures.

Bill Gross loves startups. He believes the best ones can unlock human potential. Bill wanted to pin point what factors or factor accounts the most for a companies success or failure?

He worked with his partners and analysed 100 Idealab companies and a 100 non Idealab companies.

Companies like Flooz, YouTube, Uber,, Instagram, AirBNB, Kozmo, LinkedIn, Friendster and more.

He reviewed a range of factors to try and determine what key factors account for startups success.

The findings surprised him and they will surprise you:

Funding – 14%
Entrepreneurs often think that once they have funding they are on the road to success however Bills analysis showed that companies that were well funded only accounted for a mere 14% success ratio.

Business Model – 24%
It’s always important to know if the company has a clear path to generate revenues. But Bill notes that you can start out without a business model, and create one later. He pointed out that YouTube didn’t have a business model.
Want to design a great business model? Check out our post on the Business Model Canvas.

Ideas – 28%
Got a great disruptive idea? Ideas for a business startup are important but ideas only accounted for a 28% success ratio among the companies he reviewed.

Team – 32%
In Bill’s experience he knew that the customer is the true reality. During the talk he quotes Mike Tyson who said “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” If a good team can adapt to the true reality of a demanding customer, perhaps the team is the truest indicator of success for a start up? But ‘team’ fell short as well. Accounting for only a 32% success ratio.

Timing – 42%
The most important factor accounting for whopping 42% of the difference between success and failure, is timing. Bill noted that many investors passed on AirBNB. Most thinking that it was odd for a person to rent out a room in their home to a stranger.

Aside from a great business model, and a great team, AirBNB had timing on its side. Launched during the recession when people needed extra cash. Wiping out the stigma attached to it. Check out the talk by Nathan Blecharczyk (Cofounder of AirBNB) on the story behind AirBNB.

Uber also benefited from launching during the recession as well. Drivers were looking to pick up some extra money to supplement their income.

The idea matters a lot. But timing matters more.

So as you are planning your startup you need to be asking – are my customers ready for what I am offering.

Get the timing right and according to Bill Gross your chances of success are much higher.

Check out some of our other videos
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How to fund a startup
Kickstarter success Ep 1
Kickstarter success Ep 2
Business model canvas
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How to pitch to investors with Guy Kawasaki

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