Creating A Startup is Not a Contest

January 16th, 2012
[ General ]

Dave Grohl of the band The Foo Fighters recently claimed that rock will never die. His point was simple. Keep it real, put in the practice, play with heart and make great music. There are no short cuts.

“You have to understand, we’re a really simple band. We think we suck and we try really hard to make good records and we practice.”

His sentiments reminded me of the startup scene. First time entrepreneurs often believe their path to success is a beauty contest. We’re immersed in pitch contests, incubator application processes etc that’s it’s hard not to get caught up in it. There is a lot of ‘putting lipstick on pigs’ going on in the startup world. That lipstick line isn’t mine, I stole that from a local tech investor lamenting the beauty contest atmosphere we’ve cultivated. Back to Grohl..

“Something’s got to give. It can’t be song contests on television for the rest of our lives. It can’t be the same playlists on every radio station for the rest of our lives. It can’t be music made entirely by computers with people talking over it the rest of our lives. It can’t go that way, it just won’t.

I feel like as a musician and a part of this rock’n'roll scene, I have a responsibility to make shit real, to not think about all of that other bullshit, not think about making music for money or promoting music for fashion, the contests. My responsibility is to make shit that’s real. Once you start doing the right thing, it will get better.”

Startups are businesses at the end of the day. Creating a new business is not a contest. I’m not suggesting you don’t apply for an incubator, pitch to investors, or try to win a local pitch contest. Just realize none of that has anything to do with building your business. If you decide to go those routes, make sure that you’re solving a problem *you* actually have! Think about what Grohl says, don’t let all that other bullshit distract you. Focus on your product, your market, your customer. Make shit real, deliver.

When Grohl talked about how they keep their focus, it reminded me of what we’re doing here at ThreeFortyNine

“we don’t pay attention to any of that. We have our own studio, our own label, and we do everything on our own terms”

We’re working hard to build ThreeFortyNine into our clubhouse. A place where people work hard together to build new tech businesses on their own terms. We’ll earn that freedom only through hard work and practice not by winning beauty contests. Focus on your customer and your product, product, product! Did I mention your product?