Why Most “Stealth Mode” Startups Fail
Daily Blog #28
I was talking to a startup the other day who work in AI. What do they do? That’s a good question. They wouldn’t tell me. They insisted that they couldn’t chat about it right now, because they’re in “Stealth Mode.”
I hate when people talk about this. It just sounds so immature. Stealth mode usually means “we think our idea is so amazing that we’re sure somebody is going to steal it” – newsflash, nobody wants your dumb idea.
Execution is the only thing that matters.
This is just the way it is. You can have a truly earth shattering startup idea, a brilliant one beyond all measure, and it still won’t get off the ground if you can’t execute. If you can’t turn your idea into a reality, through technical knowledge, hard work, project management and sweat, you don’t actually have anything of value.
An idea isn’t useful. People have them every single day. But yours is special? Prove it. Make it work. Go out and build a product.
You ain’t that special.
The chances are, no matter how good you are, your idea has been thought up by a hundred other people. It’s not that unique. Google was the 27th search engine. Facebook was nowhere near the first social network. Grant Cardonne was not the first guy to come up with the idea of selling shitty courses that nobody needs by dressing like an idiot on a fucking yacht. Ideas come and go.
Trying to protect your idea because you think you’re a special wizard of magical thinking isn’t going to make it any better, and believing that you’re a genius for coming up with it is a sure-fire way to get so wrapped up in your own hubris that you can’t see the flaws in your concept.
Personally, I believe in giving ideas away.
I want to see a dozen other people working on the same idea as me. It normally proves there’s a market, helps me brainstorm by watching them work, makes it easier to determine what fits and what doesn’t, and becomes a way to analyse how successful the concept actually is.
Giving ideas away means opening yourself up to the challenge of competition and collaboration. That’s awesome. And it’s well worth it. Hiding your ideas behind “Stealth Mode” denies you that opportunity.
Don’t use secrecy because you can’t compete!
This happens. People use secrecy because they know, or they fear, that they can’t compete on an even field with the other players in their space. They hide behind it because they know that their execution is sub fucking par. That’s not a good thing. You’ve got to be able to stand by your work and your idea.
No matter what you’re building, it’s only going to be helped by:
🍕 Getting to execution openly and publicly as fast as you can
🍕 Taking every single opportunity to show your work to your customers and get their feed back
🍕 Building alongside competent competitors and bouncing off their product and approach
🍕 Valuing real work and sweat over magical ideas…
🗓 I’m in Adelaide today. It’s about 8am my time, and I’m writing this from my brother’s living room. Crashing with family while I’m in town. I was skating around the city yesterday, and it was gorgeous. Love being back here. There’s something about this city that always brings me back. The green of the parks, the quality of the wine, the clear skies. Adelaide will always be my home, in some ways.
When I get back to Sydney, I’ve got a massive to-do list. Largely because as soon as I leave, my head clears up and ideas start flowing in and the plans to make them happen just fly into my notes. It’s the best feeling.
I want to travel a lot more this year. Travel, talk and catch up on the world beyond my window. That’s definitely a goal that I’m going to take seriously.
💡 The Daily Ask
Check out the guys at Folklore Skateboards. Great Aussie brand. I love that they’re local. Supporting the Aussie ecosystem, whether it’s for startups, tech, music or skateboarding, that shit is important to me. Always will be.