Elements for success and failure according to Patrick de Zeeuw from Startupbootcamp, which helps young companies.
Volkskrant, 28 april 2018
There you are, your startup is ready to conquer the world. But how? You have a great idea, but how are you going to make your new company a success? This is where Patrick de Zeeuw comes in, he is cofounder of Startupbootcamp, an investor who helps around 200 to 250 young companies every year. With small investments and mainly with knowledge. With locations all over the world, Startupbootcamp has already helped 650 startups.
There are two main reasons why a startup is not going to make it. The first one: there is ‘no market fit’ according to De Zeeuw. This means that there are not enough people interested in the product. Because they are too early or too late with bringing the product on the market or there is just no businessmodel. ‘Sometimes a company changes the proposal twice or even three times before it becomes a success’ (Patick de Zeeuw). For instance Airbnb started with renting out air matrasses from their apartment.
Much more important is the second reason why startups do not make it. There is a conflict between the founders. Most of the time the core of problem lies a lot deeper: this is often the tension that grew under the pressure of trying to create the company.
Because there is almost always a certain kind of pressure and tension, premedation is part of the accelerator program used at Startupbootcamp. Ambitions change and there can be issues about money. Or one of the founders gets a new girlfriend who thinks he needs a normal job and should make money. Before you realize it, it goes wrong.
Problems have to be discussed before they even exist, says De Zeeuw. In this way everything will be adressed before it can turn into something that could threaten the company. Just like you are going to the dentist every six months and you get your car checked. No starting company does this, says De Zeeuw, eventhough this is one the most important steps towards success. In our program startups have two sessions with mediators, where they will put everything on the table.
Another lesson: do not have too many founders. One will be too difficult, because he/she would have to do everything him/herself. Two is better, especially if one of them is good at sales and the other is more of a developer of the product. Like Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak from Apple. Three is more difficult. Five founders is a disaster. We do not do that. Our method seems the be a success. After four years of working with different startups 75 to 80 percent of the startups are still active who have been at Startupbootcamp. One of the most important factors in order for the startup to stay successful is that the spirit of the startup-phase keeps alive in the company as it grows. Are the founders still making the decisions? Is the right mentality still there? A big risk is to get managers from big companies involved, says De Zeeuw. It can ruin the culture in the company. Think about Steve Jobs, who got John Scully from Pepsi involved and got pushed out of the company after a while. Our job is to get the culture right and to get the founders aligned.