21st Century Internet Start-Up Culture: Tradition vs. Reality


In this first topic I’m interested to investigate the start up culture within the digital economy. In my futre research, I hope to focus my attention on the fashion industry; because of its close relation with my current project. I hope as a result to find out how fashion start-up businesses can succesfully operate in the 21st century. To do this I must investigate a lot of areas including the current start up culture; the history of entrepreneurship and influences of factors within the digital economy.

Dot Com Strategy

According to statistics such as that presented on FutureStartUp.com the global rate of startup business failure is around 90%. This means that 9 out of 10 internet start ups fail. Ofcourse it is important to consider that statiscs may vary from industry to industry; so my main focus will be on online start ups.

With the rise of dot com billionaire projects seemingly “overnight” with the help of social media platform Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (featured above) or online-based discount giant Groupon founder Andrew Mason – is the business model of these digital darlings a prerequisite for online startups to survive? If yes, what are the keys to success?

Traditional Structure vs Start Up Structure

Mathew Ingram, an author of GigaOm.com alerts that, “Many startups like Tumblr and Airbnb have become successful because they focused on filling a need that their founders had, and then turned that into a business.”

Create something you want vs something people need

With most entrepreneurs, the focus of developing of a personal idea by using just traditional quantitative user research is a central part of  their approach. Henry Ford famously said……

The idea of using traditional quantitative methods could actually hinder a creative approach to an entrepreneur’s idea – how can one find out future consumers’ needs based on just present realities?

Steve Jobs creator of Apple once radically adds, “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them. Good design could create products that anticipate consumer needs.” So is the solution for start-ups today to create products or services for the needs of tomorrow?

The Benefits of Failure; Road to Success?

Alexander Görlach criticizes the ignorance in start up culture European Magazine, “the problem isn’t failure itself: It’s the failure to learn from hard times.” Whilst a learning curve is an important experience for any entrepreneur, Görlach states he doesn’t agree that failure is the ultimative goal; but if this situation were to arise, it should be seen as a chance of opportunity. He further persists, “..a thorough analysis of past mistakes is key and the most powerful tool to avoid similar missteps in the future. ”

Alexandra Reid of ItBusiness.ca , agrees by saying “Not everyone understands a platform. But everyone understands a problem.“ The COO Richard Dodd of startup Pitch, who pitched his platform at Web Summit (Europe’s biggest technology conference) illustrates, “ We found that we got a much more positive reaction when we talked about the issue the technology solves rather than the technology itself. .. Since then we received positive reactions from several investors and potential partners when we used this strategy.”

This “problem-solving” strategy used by Pitch is closely related with the previous idea of both old and new entrepreneurs –  creating something people need or find useful. Is this where the true success of next generation of start-ups lie? Next I will research  more on how to build a “perfect” start-up in the 21st century.


One comment

  1. Nice post, Taona!

    I think there are two ways of creating a Start-Up with a good idea: Either if you don´t come up with a idea yourself, you first outline a customer group that you want to interview about a certain topic. Then you try to find out what problem and issues they have with that certain topic. From these findings, you can create product/service (minimal viable product), with which you can get back to your customer group and ask for feedback. So it´s basically a communication process, jumping out of your own mind, into the mind of your customers.

    The second way of doing it, is by having your own idea, of which you think it will fit to the market, but people cant yet predict that they will need it in the future.

    Both procedures can work out in the same way. Facebook, Ford and Apple are real-life examples, that specially the second approach can work very well:)

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