Fred Wilson shared the talk Joel Spolsky gave to the Y Combinator Startup School session. Joel wrote about it in his popular blog Joel on Software. I think it is one of those important decisions that Entrepreneurs and Investors need to make and understand. I have struggled with my own education on this and believe me it has been hard to convince people that Odds or “Risk” does not matter. Anyways, this presentation has become pivotal to the way I am thinking right now. I believe Iceland needs to be betting all our resources
on companies that are in the Get Big Fast category. I am not saying investing in organic growth is bad, I am just saying that I like the odds of betting something that will get big fast. Why do I say this is one of the most important decisions Investors need to make? well, because the metrics and everything else that guides the behavior of the board, the advisors and the market participants relies on this decision. Think about it, if you need to get big fast as Joel says in the post and in the video, you can afford to break things and try new things and learn from your mistakes because you are moving quickly and can pivot, whereas if you are doing an organic growth company and you make mistakes it can kill you. I have come to believe that we as humans make mistakes all the time and why put ourselves into a position where a mistake can kill us. There is a reason why we survived a couple of thousand years despite disease, wild animals much powerful than us humans etc we ensured that we put ourselves out of harms way. A lot of my thinking is based on the arguments Taleb has made, or keeps making. I like the positive white swan argument. If you don’t know what that is read this.
What is the context to Iceland? well, lets think about it. The total amount of money that has been invested in Get Big Fast Companies in Iceland is pathetic if I am being honest. I have the feeling investors in Iceland would rather see companies fail Slooooowly than invest heavily in companies that can grow fast. All this comes to education of the Startup Community. Most investors that I talk to want to invest in Get Big Fast Companies but don’t understand what it takes to get such a company off the ground and competitive on the global market. There is no magic bullet, the community has to invest in it. Lets talk about the Pension Fund system in Iceland, I have written about it and I will say it again, this is a freight train that is going to collapse, unless they start actually putting a small fraction of their money in the Get Big Fast Companies category but according to rules, they are prevented from taking these bets. That is just tragic.
- Video Of The Week: Joel Spolsky at Startup School (avc.com)
- Grow Fast, Grow Organic (eliainsider.com)
- My key takeaways from Y Combinator’s Startup School 2012 (nowaternomoon.com)
- YC Startup School: 5 Lessons for a First-Time Founder (refer.ly)
- Video Of The Week: Joel Spolsky at Startup School (businessinsider.com)