There’s a lot of luck involved in startups. Although the successes of generation defining tech companies (like Google, Facebook, and Uber for our current generation) seem obvious in hindsight, they were anything but in the early days of these companies.
A co-founder could have fallen ill and broken up the founding team. A product feature thought to be game changing could have been insufficient to switch users away from a larger competitor. A market estimated to be 10X in size may have turned out to be only 1X big. The profitable unit economics the company thought it would have achieved at scale could have never arrived. An investor who believed in an entrepreneur when no one else did may have never come along.
With the exception of the last case, I’ve seen each of these happen in practice. And I’m sure that there are entrepreneurs and companies out there who were never funded but would have been successful had they been funded.
Luck, and bad luck, happen.
When bad luck happens to a company, an investor in that company often has several other companies in their portfolio that are experiencing the other side of the coin, in other words good luck, on their route to success.
That’s not the case for an entrepreneur.
When bad luck happens in an area critical for a company’s survival, that’s all that the entrepreneur experiences. Although there may be patches of good luck in minor areas, there’s no good luck in a similarly critical area to compensate for the bad luck.
Yet entrepreneurs keep moving forward despite this uncertainty.
That takes guts and I deeply respect that.
Originally published at Thoughts of a VC.