Television Analogies to Working for a Startup

Quote of the Day

All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts, but it is magnetic to the corruptible.

— Frank Herbert, Dune


Figure 1: Star Trek is analgous to a startup in the beginning.

Figure 1: Star Trek is analogous to a startup in the beginning. (Source)

I was talking to an old friend the other night about the positives and negatives associated with working for a startup company. Overall, we both enjoyed working with startups enormously, and I would seriously consider joining another. However, both of us understand the special challenges that startups face.

My friend compared being part of a startup to various well-known television shows, and I would mention his thoughts here.

With a big smile on his face, he says that most startups go through three phases:

  • Beginning: Star Trek

    We are starting on a multi-year mission to boldly go where no one has gone before. Everyone is excited, you have a plan, and the sky is the limit.

  • Middle: Survivor

    Steven Blank defines a startup as

    a temporary organization searching for a repeatable and scalable business model.

    This search for a business model often involves people with strong opinions who want to influence the direction of the company. These folks frequently try to form alliances within the organization – just like Survivor. This is often a stressful time.

  • End: ER

    At some point, most startups start looking for a buyer/white knight/angel investor because they are having money problems. I have been there – there is nothing quite like having paying customers and no working capital for building product. There were days when you feel like you are in an ER and need someone to apply the paddles.

I had to laugh because his observations struck close to home.

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