The Startup Journey

Let's dive deeper into the Startup Journey. It's all about innovation, and the first thing to understand about innovation is that it is a journey of discovery. There is no straight line between idea and realization. If it was that easy, other people would already have built your idea a long time ago. Instead, it is a journey into unknown territory, where you will learn that your ideas and assumptions about the world are incorrect.

The 'squiggle' image is what a design process looks like according to Damien Newman. Starting at the left, moving to the right, the process looks first like a chaotic search before settling into a clearer, straighter line at the right. It turns out, that this is exactly the same for an innovation process. It's chaotic, and if you treat it like an execution problem, you will get in big trouble.

For example, if the scribble above described the way DHL delivered your Amazon order, you’d be horrified. To most managers in establishing businesses, thinking of their business processes as the scribble above would mean sleepless nights at the very least. 

And that’s an important realization.

The process of figuring out a new startup business is completely different from running an established company efficiently. 

Startup companies are not smaller versions of big corporates.

— Steve Blank

So, not treating it as an execution problem, what does that mean? Well, for starters, it means you need to throw away standard ‘efficiency’ thinking. We’re so used to trying to think ahead and optimize that we forget we don’t know what we’re optimizing for yet.

Premature optimization is the root of all evil

— Knuth (Creator of the C programming language)

Another big one is: don’t try to make it scalable yet. Sure, in order to become a successful business, you’ll need to make it scale at some point. But before you know what to scale, it’s a waste of time that may very well block you from finding that magic first customer.

Startups should do things that don’t scale

— Paul Graham