The Slow Startup Movement

Much like the slow parenting movement gained traction in select communities several years ago, I believe we’re going to see the rise of the slow startup movement. The slow startup movement isn’t about growing slow, as the definition of a startup is a scalable, growth-focused company. Rather, it’s about taking a simpler, more flexible approach to building a successful business.

The slow startup values freedom and flexibility over marketshare.

The slow startup promotes a measured, sustainable pace, not a repeated heroic effort.

The slow startup favors the long-term over the short-term.

The slow startup eschews venture capital in favor of customer-funded growth.

The slow startup doesn’t read TechCrunch and the glorification of raising money.

The slow startup plans for the next 20 years, not an exit in 3-5 years.

The next time someone says you have to grow faster, have to raise money, have to win the market, know that there’s a different way with plenty of success stories: the slow startup way. Go slow and win your own way.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the slow startup movement?

9 thoughts on “The Slow Startup Movement

  1. Love it! All of these ideas (VC money as a last resort – or maybe you just shut down instead; don’t raise money, raise customers; etc) largely define my personal startup worldview, shaped in no small part by experiencing the pros and cons in person, on the frontline. It feels good to see that others (with more experience and the validation of success) not only think there’s value in the overall approach but that they’re cohesive enough altogether to be granted A Label.

  2. Never heard of slow startups before, but I actually run one of them myself (still very much in my home country Norway, but slowly creeping abroad). It is a SaaS membership system for organizations of all kinds. When I started out in 2012 I still had a full-time job and did all the programming in weekends and evenings. Then I got a few customers, and then a few more, and in 2014 I quit my day job. I hired a support person i 2016 and a developer this year. So now we are three, and we have been making money all the time. 80% of or revenue is recurring, and the risk is very low. Originally I was thinking about venture capital, but I found out it is much more inspiring for me to be selling to customers rather than investors. And even though I still work a lot I can take long vacations and a day off now and then when the weather is nice.

  3. Nice article! It’s good to know some guys have the courage to challenge the status-quo. I also run a slow SaaS startup in Brazil. I’ve been struggling with the idea of going after VC money or not since our early days in 2008, and I haven’t decided yet… It may happen in the future, I don’t know. I’m not against it. I’m just not very sure yet the pros outweigh the cons…

  4. Great reflection and I’d be happy to see that, as I believe there’s an unhealthy focus on quick exits in the startup community. Focusing on the long-term is more heroic than quickly building top-line revenue on VC funding and making a swift exit, IMO.

  5. Amen! Great post!

    This creates a strong foundation and more long-term value. Anybody can build some sort of business with a nice check after a proof of concept. I love this tweet from @jason because it actually highlights that you need profits to grow! Sometimes a crazy concept in the tech startup community!

    Max Mulvihill (812) 650-2625

    On Tue, Mar 14, 2017 at 8:33 PM, David Cummings on Startups wrote:

    > David Cummings posted: “Much like the slow parenting movement gained > traction in select communities several years ago, I believe we’re going to > see the rise of the slow startup movement. The slow startup movement isn’t > about growing slow, as the definition of a startup is a scal” >

  6. David, I enjoyed your thoughts on the Slow Startup Movement. I actually favor the slow startup movement, especially in the beginning of a company’s life. Too many entrepreneurs take too much capital (or too many VCs ram capital into companies before hey have found product/market fit and a path to market that is repeatable and predictable.

    I think venture capital is most appropriate when, along the path of a company’s life, the managers find themselves in the unique position of being able to accelerate growth in a way that a considerable amount of additional equity value is created by taking the capital. And the entrepreneur should capture tevliin’s share if he additional value.

    • Great thought, I completely agree. I’ve made the mistake personally a couple time trying to prematurely scale a funded startup when the basics weren’t in place yet and most of the time it fails. A hard lesson to learn…

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