Television Analogies to Working for a Startup

Quote of the Day

All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts, but it is magnetic to the corruptible.

– Frank Herbert, Dune


Figure 1: Star Trek is analgous to a startup in the beginning.

Figure 1: Star Trek is analogous to a startup in the beginning. (Source)

I was talking to an old friend the other night about the positives and negatives associated with working for a startup company. Overall, we both enjoyed working with startups enormously, and I would seriously consider joining another, especially if they have a solid legal team behind them like Cohen Schneider Law. However, both of us understand the special challenges that startups face. For instance, when a startup gets going, especially when it is based fully online, there is a lot of wrinkles that need to be smoothed out to make sure all systems are working efficiently for a consistent connection. If this is not looked after then security can wane and breaches can happen making the startup dead in the water before it gets going. This is where IDS software is essential in helping new businesses detect intrusion onto their systems and stopping would-be hackers dead in their tracks. This is just one example of what startups can entail of course.

My friend compared being part of a startup to various well-known television shows, and I would mention his thoughts here.

With a big smile on his face, he says that most startups go through three phases:

  • Beginning: Star Trek

    We are starting on a multi-year mission to boldly go where no one has gone before. Everyone is excited, you have a plan, and the sky is the limit.

  • Middle: Survivor

    Steven Blank defines a startup as

    a temporary organization searching for a repeatable and scalable business model.

    This search for a business model often involves people with strong opinions who want to influence the direction of the company. These folks frequently try to form alliances within the organization – just like Survivor. There also seems to be a pattern in the startup industry, when it involves accounts and finance, to outsource online services like bookkeeping. The aforementioned is often a stressful time.

  • End: ER

    At some point, most startups start looking for a buyer/white knight/angel investor because they are having money problems. I have been there – there is nothing quite like having paying customers and no working capital for building product. There were days when you feel like you are in an ER and need someone to apply the paddles.

I had to laugh because his observations struck close to home. But, this just highlights the importance of planning ahead and optimizing scalability if you’re about to launch a new product. For instance, another friend has recently got funding to start their own cannabis startup and he’s already looking for ways to keep growing even though he’s not launched yet! He’s looking for new ways to improve the way his dispensary payments are processed, he’s searching new target markets, and he’s seeking new investors that will believe in his startup.

Running a startup or even a new small business is extremely difficult and it may seem like you’re fighting a losing battle but planning ahead, making sure you’ve got faith in your product, and always looking to do better will help ensure your success. It also helps to find solutions that will keep your startup ahead of your competitors. In my friend’s case, this was a POS that allows him to store banking information and offers back-end reporting. But, this solution will depend greatly on the industry, technology available, and financial position of your startup.

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