Despite every startup claiming to be approaching a problem in a different way, you can actually divide them into four categories.
- Those with grand ideas and execution to match
- Those with the ideas but where execution is not quite there
- Those who you wonder what they were smoking when they thought that idea was going to work.
The fourth category is the one that goes unnoticed
- The humble new business selling just a little bit better than their nearest competitors, but not setting the world on fire.
I feel for those entrepreneurs chasing the big dream with the hope of being backed by venture capital money.
VCs tempt entrepreneurs into the ultimate land-grab based on a new idea. This is generally in the hope that a new area has value that can be realised at a later date, rather than backing new¬†businesses¬†in existing sectors where VC level returns are harder to achieve, but perfectly good job-creating businesses can be created.
The¬†incumbents¬†may have left a few angel funding-sized holes in the big cheese of the travel industry – but $100 million plus valuation holes -where VCs can play – no – those holes are rare (or quickly closed by incumbents once they hear about a new startup with a great idea in their area).
So when someone comes to Tnooz and says “we are going to do this and it is going to be game changing” what are we meant to do?
For example, look at¬†TripFab,¬†which uses “The travel industry is going to crap its pants” as its tag line.
Now are we meant to say “thank goodness, this is what we have been waiting for and therefore they should lead the Tnooz news with every single functionality tweak they make”, or are we meant to double check that our subscription to our¬†laundry¬†service is up to date.
Shooting for the moon doesn’t mean you will reach the stars. Using this approach as a startup in the travel industry may mean you never leave the launch pad.
Then you also hear about the airline KLM, which has announced its intention to launch a social seating service.¬†Passengers will be able to link their social media profile to their check-in information, and subsequently choose a seating partner based on the social media profiles of other passengers.
Now there is an intention/aspiration. But why should this intention be given any more¬†likelihood¬†of reality than a startup’s publicly stated aspiration?
Of course, being an¬†incumbent¬†and large scale supplier makes their statement more interesting – but what if KLM is just moving to using the Ryanair school of PR and announcing all sorts or ideas or nonsense for publicity’s sake (such as paying to pee on a plane – did that ever happen?) [NB: Ed - No, it did not]
For those who dream of being the next big thing in travel, the vast majority will fail to do so. But without that mindset, the confidence and the determination to succeed, you will fail, for sure.
So perhaps making big, aspirational, future-looking statements is simply the key that gets you entry to the top club – but it doesn’t make them succeed in their own right.
Perhaps we should learn to accept and love these statements as an outward sign of the dedication required to deliver on the dream. Doesn’t mean we should cover them on Tnooz though.
Here is to 2012, where Tnooz becomes more widely read than¬†The New York Times. It’s an aspiration, right?