What is a startup? According to Paul Graham, co-founder of the “Y Combinator” accelerator, it is “a company designed to grow fast”: so much so that, in order to be accepted into his accelerator programme, a startup must have a monthly growth rate of five to seven percent.
Of course, this kind of performance requires more than simply validating the idea and the market area: the business model, which is at the heart of the project, must be scalable. Steve Blank, creator of the “Customer Development” model, defines a startup as “a temporary organisation designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model”.
In summary, a startup is a temporary organisation designed to search for a sustainable and scalable business model, in order to grow rapidly and provide products or services in extremely uncertain conditions.
The basic goal of a startup is to find an innovative solution to a problem. If a certain problem has not yet been addressed, or if the best solution has not been found, we are faced with an opportunity. Facebook was by no means the earliest social network, but in 2004 Mark Zuckerberg was the first to come up with the idea of a university-based network. College students made up a pool of users that were ready and willing to sign up for social media, post photographs, and enter their personal details, because every American student “needed” a real profile on the network where they could create and maintain relationships with their peers. This need was especially strong among former students who could finally get back into contact with old university friends easily, and share their news.
When developing our idea, we must not simply give up if a solution to a particular problem has already been found, but try to understand how we could offer a better one. Telegram was created when WhatsApp already had over half a billion users worldwide, but Pavel Durov went one step further, creating an incredibly fast peer-to-peer encrypted chat service. WhatsApp users also needed higher security, but would have to wait until 2016 for end-to-end encryption to be introduced.
Re-evaluation is another key factor in the growth of a startup. One of the most important skills that start-uppers must possess is the ability to respond to change, in other words understanding if they need to amend their vision and readjust their business model to the market. It is no coincidence that the most widely used method when founding a company is the “Lean” approach, which uses feedback to continuously review projects and make any subsequent changes.