What’s the best startup advice you’ve ever received?
I was recently asked this question and surprisingly, the answer came to me immediately. “Be conscious of the collateral damage of disruption.” This token came from one of my MIT Venture Mentoring Service mentors (sponsored by NEXT), Prashant Prabhu. This advice was both surprising and contrarian to what I was always encouraged to do as an entrepreneur. “DISRUPT” is probably one of the most overused words in the world of entrepreneurship considering how few companies actually go from “Zero to One” (Incredible book by Peter Thiel).
What Prashant meant (and subsequently followed this powerful quote with) was, for me to not focus so much on disruption that I lose sight of how great companies and products were created and withstanding the times but more importantly, to understand that with any new product, there is a significant uphill battle that an entrepreneur faces. Be it educating potential new customers, struggling to develop industry partnerships due to existing relationships, or the obvious threat of being crushed by the 800-pound market incumbent, there are a lot of potential pitfalls that can come at the cost of disruption.
Technological advancements have dramatically lowered the cost of starting a technology company but that does not mean that there are no barriers to entry or creation. Market leaders have doubled down with strategic partnerships, licensing agreements and contracts with customers, as well as…well, let’s face it…WAY more money than you (or I) have. As makers, creators, and doers, Entrepreneurs today must build with more than #disruption in mind. Disruption alone, like ideas, means nothing without execution. I’m fortunate to have the guidance that I have as I work with my team to build BANDWAGON but I’m always interested in learning more — so what’s the best startup advice you’ve ever received? And while we’re at it, what’s the worst??