The Boat Analogy for Startups

There’s a common line describing the lack of agility in big companies: they’re like a tanker ship that has immense force but little ability to change course. Well, let’s take the boat analogy a bit further and apply it to the many startup stages:

  • Concept stage – you’ve picked out the boat of your dreams, how you’ll operate it, and where you’ll take it, but it is still a dream.
  • Seed stage – you realize you can’t afford the boat of your dreams, but really want to get out on the water, so you start with a jet ski suitable for you and your co-founder. Wow, this thing goes fast and turns on a dime.
  • Early stage – OK, now you have a few people on board. It is time for a nice ski boat, like a MasterCraft with an in-board motor ready to go fast and turn hard.
  • Growth stage -Things are starting to get crowded, you need more room, people demand decent sleeping quarters: it is time for the used 40′ Hatteras yacht.
  • Late stage – With so much value now, the cruise ship has left the port and hit the open ocean. There’s ton of people and value on board, but little hope of changing course.

What do you think? How applicable are these boat analogies to the different startup stages?

2 thoughts on “The Boat Analogy for Startups

  1. I swear when I first looked at the blog title for the day, the I thought the analogy was going to be more simplistic. For boat owners, the two best days in life are the day you buy the boat and the day you sell it. I thought you were going to relate that the two best days for entrepreneurs were the day you unveil your startup and the day you exit…

    Luckily, your analogy was more detailed and worthwhile. Thanks-

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