Why do start-ups matter? A reflection after being considered a top Internet company in Portugal by BestStartup.eu
Last week we received the joyful news that Angry Ventures was distinguished as one of the top internet companies in Portugal by BestStartup.eu, to whom we’re quite thankful. The second great news is that another start-up that Angry Ventures works with is also on the list as one of the best in Portugal. So, all in all, we are feeling pretty good about ourselves, and even though we were no Chan Chan Man, you could say the magazine “dug our action.”
After celebrating the news, it hit us: Angry Ventures is almost a decade old, which is undoubtedly impressive for every company, but even more if it is a start-up. We see every year thousand of businesses like this starting, but very few pass the test of time; very few, like Sepultura would say, resist, refuse to die. Technically speaking, we’re no longer a subsistence start-up (one that is not planning to be a big company but rather has some level of financial independence while doing what they do). We are, and even been for some time, a transformational start-up: one that impacts the economy and aims to go national or international.
After this situation, it seems like a nice moment to reflect on why do start-ups matter and why they are the crème de la crème of innovative and truly modern companies.
Innovation and start-ups are two peas in a pod
According to a 2016 report from the Kauffman Foundation, t ransformational start-ups have been increasing in the last years at a faster rate. This is excellent data for the general economy, since a healthy economic system includes both large and small businesses, especially if we reflect how different players keep adapting to the evolving needs of challenging times (Covid-19, I’m looking at you) and their importance of adapting and innovating in the most daring circumstances.
That is why innovation is so crucial to… basically everything, but it’s a more precedent feature to start-ups since they have to respond to the community’s needs and the market they serve. It becomes more a survival tool than a feature so that this kind of enterprise can abide and thrive in such a fast-paced ecosystem. In that sense, innovation is both a strategy and a tool for growth for start-ups.
Besides this, one cannot forget how technology makes technology obsolete. It only takes one new start-up or company with a new disruptive idea or tool to annihilate other businesses.
In the oppositive direction, it’s easier for start-ups to keep innovating and promote that kind of spirit in the workplace/spirit. As one, it helps us surmount challenges and solve diverse problems. We’re constantly thinking about improving or agilizing (Internet companies love this term. It gives us goosebumps) in everything we’re involved in. For example: even though we have a large number of different clients, we also reserved time to develop new products/tools that come in “Andy” (it’s funny because we’re creating a tool named that. You’d laugh if you were too. Don’t judge my dad jokes). Before this one, we invented Alice, a short URL tool; Barry, the fastest SMS marketing, and Saul, a free website builder.
“What’s next?” people. Always ask yourself, “What’s next?”.
Overall, it’s these needs and abilities to innovate consistently and persistently, leading start-ups to compete with the big guns and prosper in such an environment. “ Could they be more efficient?”, as Chanandler Bong would question.
However, the foremost reason why start-ups and innovation go hand in hand and what makes them absolutely vital in today’s society is simply their employees. This new-age workforce has different demands and expectations from the previous generation. For instance: life-work balance, less rigid work practices and schedules, meaningful jobs and companies that care for their well-being — all requirements and benefits already exercised in many start-ups that actually evolved their work practices and culture and not stuck in old-fashioned rules and behaviors of the Silent Generation, Boomers, and Generation X. If you think about, it’s ridiculous comparing what humankind has achieved in a few decades (smartphones, Internet, taking humans to the Moon, modern medicine, to name a few) and how we still work and study precisely like 30, 40 years ago. C’mon.
Rant aside, here are few reasons why start-ups matter.
According to Vivek Wadhwa, a fellow at the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard, “without start-ups, there would be no net job growth in the US economy. From 1977 to 2005, existing companies were net job destroyers, losing 1 million net jobs per year. New businesses in their first year added an average of 3 million jobs annually.”
In short, start-ups create jobs net jobs. Moreover, they add openings to the market at an impressive 20 to 25 percent rate each year.
Open new markets
Every technology giant we have today — Amazon, Facebook, Google — was once a tiny yet determined start-up. Some of them even started at a parents’ garage. In a few years, they transform themselves into big players that produce or disrupt entire markets and changed forever how we did things, giving them a rather charming punk vibe.
They create their own new opportunities and then exploit them until no end, offering unique value propositions that trump mature businesses and inspire competition.
As older businesses are more likely to invest in existing technologies and incremental innovation, while being bound to corporate habits and bureaucracies, start-ups ain’t got time (nor patience) for that. T hey are more focused on cutting-edge technology in creating new and better things and, again, innovation in every sphere.
Start-ups are also more agile and free to start their next move than multilayered companies. They are quicker to implement shifts, make faster decisions, and generate a product from an idea, motivating workers to take chances and think beyond.
It’s no wonder that technology giants spend their time acquiring start-ups to keep this mindset flowing in their own companies.
New work practices, culture, and evolution
In a start-up, each employee has simultaneously more importance and accountability in a way that big firms don’t exercise. Why? Because start-ups are all about retaining talent, which motivates the creation of a good work environment to differentiate them from the big players and keep their employees motivated while cultivating a “can-do attitude” that drives start-ups to always being ahead of the curve.
In our case, our founder Fernando is probably the embodiment of the “can do” attitude. As a team, we firmly believe that he would find a way to make a megaphone using only a string and a squirrel.
Here is a practical example: in a start-up, bureaucracy is put aside to give space to ownership: it doesn’t matter when a staff member clocks in and clocks out as long as their work is finished and they’re attentive to last-minute problems or calls. Hell, there are no clocks because we’re all adults who don’t need to be controlled by a colleague or boss to do our work. And if that said employee is not taking responsibility for their tasks and responsibilities? Then, maybe a start-up and more freedom to organize one’s plan isn’t the right fit for that person.
Why creating lists and talking about start-ups is so important for everyone’s future
It’s these changes in the work mindset and labor market that, slowly but steadily, will change how we work in the foreseen time, and start-up are in the frontier of this evolution. In fact, there are already countries and companies that are experimenting the four-day week, remote working in different formats, fewer working hours per day, and other methods since they’re becoming sensitizing to the rationale that working five days a week, spending eight hours in an office and working 40 hours per week without any work-life balance whatsoever, is unnatural, unhealthy, and frankly, just plain stupid.
Even though we couldn’t possibly research all the 101 top Internet companies in Portugal that beststartup.eu mention on short notice, we bet they all have one or more traits discussed here.
Maybe in the future, society will give the next step in the job market, and finally, we will not have to endure people bragging proudly about how they never have dinner with the family, how they work 80 hours a week and miss everything. Just to be clear, there is nothing to gloat about here: it’s just sad. Get your priorities straight, Gary!
Originally published at https://angry.ventures on July 16, 2021.