Cockroach Mode for Startups

Jeff mentioned not too long ago that tech startups aren’t really focused on innovating on a daily basis. Rather, they’re focused on not dying. For many entrepreneurs, especially those in the idea stage, they are closer to being a science project than an actual company. As Steve Blank famously says, “Startups are temporary organizations designed to find a repeatable business model.” I like to think of startups in this do-not-die stage as the hardiest of insects: cockroaches.

Here are a few thoughts on cockroach mode for startups:

  • Look for little-to-no salaries for the entrepreneurs (a famous investor said the best predictor of startup success was the CEO’s salary)
  • Look for entrepreneurs valeting cars in the evening to pay the bills
  • Look for entrepreneurs staying in Airbnbs or friend’s sofas instead of hotel rooms on trips
  • Look for everyone on the team focused on how to acquire customers (make money!) or find investors, not just the CEO
  • Look for a palpable level of persistence and determination in the entrepreneur (watch out for the desperation level)

Building a successful startup is incredibly difficult. Cockroach mode for startups happens more often than people realize and entrepreneurs that make it through it are even stronger due to the experience.

What else? What are some more thoughts on cockroach mode for startups?

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