world’s largest jumbo shrimp

Today I read an article about Dropbox and their recent growth as they just hit 25 million users.* One of the quotes from the article really stuck with me

The worst outcome for a startup is not failure — its mediocrity.

I really believe that’s true. Mediocre startups aren’t truely successful ones. They aren’t the ones that people want to join, that engineers leave “safe” jobs with big companies to invest their time in. Venture capitalists aren’t (usually) calling the average companies.

Fortune favors the bold

The startups that really change the world are the ones that really have big ambitions. It’s not enough to say you want to take over a market, it’s about embracing revolutionary change inside and out. Bootstrapping, starting small or creating the minimal viable product to gain customer feedback are great tactics, as long as your long term strategy is bold enough.

You will be judged by the quality of your enemies

Comparing your company against the incumbents, the current generation of competitors means you run the risk of only shooting high enough to beat them. Building a company means setting your sights on the biggest opportunity, and that means knowing from the beginning that you are building to win against the largest competition. To be the best you have to beat the best. A strategy built around being acquired by a larger company is doomed to failure, but a strategy built around being so much better than they are that they have no choice but to buy you before someone else does is a winner.

No one sets out to be the world’s largest jumbo shrimp, in other words something big in it’s own mind but not important enough to really make a dent in the universe. If you’re not careful your startup can end there. Don’t let it happen to you.

*Though I was a large scale Dropbox user, I have to admit I’ve switched to Google Drive. Guess Dropbox is really at 24,999,999 users.

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