What type of startup are you?
Recently I fell over a presentation about #bmgen that expanded into some topics like “categories of startups”. The moment I saw the list I clicked pause, went to take a glass of water and tried to restart my brain. It did not help. Somebody is actually trying to categorize startups. You wanna create a startup? Well, pick a category!
I know this sounds like overreacting, but believe me, nothing strikes me direct in the gut like these entrepreneur scholars that try to find ways of ruining everything happening around us. They see patterns emerge from something amazing and immediately jump to create all sorts of psychoanalytical bullsh*t presentations where brainwashing is for entry and delusion is for desert.
I remember the first time I saw this pattern; sparklines. Oh dear how much we heard about sparklines. Sparklines here, sparklines there. Use them everywhere! And after a year they were gone. And everybody forgot what good they were for in the first place. And only after that cycle, the real value of sparklines emerged and only the people that understood why the hell that line without anything else beside it was so much better than a full chart used them in places they are meant to be used.
What is wrong and blasphemous in trying to categorize startups is the fact that a startup, which is in fact just a company in a buzzword category, is an attempt to create value in a way that is uncommon and was deemed previously unsustaniable (imho, aka disruptive). So in order to explain and talk for an hour in front of people why a certain startup succeeded, you need to create senteces like “they approached social interaction in a new way, making them a social networking company” and from there on explain all the causes and effects of a long list of luck, timing and raw talent. There is a TV ad running in Croatia “mocking” social networks by showing a city in the late 1800’s just as a brewing company has been founded. The ad ends with “<brand> beer, the first social network”. Genius!
There is nothing worse than a startup describing itself as a (ie) “coulinary/music/beer social network”. How Facebook described itself before getting 1M users? They did not say “we are a social network”, they turned into a social network. They described their products, saying exactly what is it doing and why would people use it. Creating categories for startups makes only more fog and helps nobody when trying to develop/pitch/evolve their product/company.
The massive positive atmosphere around startups allows them to grow in unconventional ways. So don’t let people standardize/categorize startups in their quest for glory. Startups are more of a state of mind than a state of business. Business will take care of itself, balance sheets will get created and yearly reports will be delivered. As in freeking every other business!
Vultures that fly above all places where the magic is happening, waiting for the right moment to land and start preaching about some new “secret” that will make you rich and open your eyes and make you über smart and make your startup the next Groupon (if you even want that). They are not there to create added value for you, they are there to create a reason why they exist.