Got your attention? Pissed you off? Or maybe you agree with me.
The word startup is bandied around at the moment by anyone with an idea. In fairness to lots of great startups, there are people out there doing it right but there are loads of people taking the piss and living the dream so to speak. It’s a serious worry though as there is an entire sub economy built up around it in Ireland and soon reality is going to kick a load of people in the hole from investors to State Support Agencies through to the startup “founder” (another silly word being used in the wrong context) and interns who are working for free for these idiots.
So having spent 6 years growing a business from a small business to a bigger business and having attended several courses and other incubator programmes I could be described as a founder of a startup but I don’t believe what I did was set up a start up.
I have launched multiple business some that have had varying degrees of success, some that worked others that haven’t worked as well.
I started young with a holy bagging business when I was 9 years old. This could be described as a startup, but unlike the hundreds of arseholes (not all of them in fairness but a percentage of them) who think they run a start up at the moment, I made money from day 1, I had an investor and a line of credit because of my lineage. I had a fixed cost and an opportunity to grow and scale for a number of weeks by producing more bags of holy.
The concept was easy, go to the corporation market in town, buy a massive bale of holly, bring it home, chop it up with a clippers (tools of the trade) and put it in small bags . The audience was different than you would expect, I was going to sell it in the supermarkets so it was mainly Mums who were not dressed to buy a Christmas Tree that were my target customers, so by having it in a bag they wouldn’t get pricked by the sharp leaves or get themselves dirty whilst buying the shopping. The USP was so obvious in hindsight. I sold hundreds and hundreds of bags, with my order getting bigger and bigger every week and the product flying off the shelf.
That to me was a start up in my opinion but I didn’t have what startups now have and the important point is I didn’t need it.
When I was 9 I didn’t get invited on a tax payers paid incubator program, but I learnt about the value of business, about customers, about stock, cashflow, invoicing, costs & profit. It cost nobody
there are hundreds of them now and the only people benefiting is the people running them and the trainers and mentors involved in them. The best part of being involved in them is the networking. So why bother with the other bits. (Harsh but mostly true)
There are people going on these courses constantly, for years on end, there are guys who are on the “circuit” bouncing from one course to the next, collecting cash, grants and other supports along the way.
Did I do this, I was on 3. The first one was utter rubbish but some of the people I met on it are still very good friends today and have been very important in the growth of our businesses.
The second was very good. was given money to do it so it was definitely worth it.
The third, I paid thousands to be on and provided me with a foundation of which I work with today.
So there was benefit, but I was luck to get onto these courses. I could have been on dozens of other ones but was busy growing a business.
So what is my problem?
My problem is that thousands of people are floating around in the economy with pipe dreams based on really poor concepts that have no chance of succeeding. Because of the startup culture which has developed in Ireland there is an acceptance of people pissing around for years on end because they have been empowered by words like pivot and pre revenue. Pre Revenue!!!! WTF ! If my holy business was pre revenue it wasn’t a business.
I think there are hundreds of people that need to take a long hard look at themselves and figure out if they are cut out to run a business. If they aren’t, the need to get out. No amount of training courses, incubation space and support will give them the personal skills to do it.