How To Become an Overnight Success With Your Startup

The path to overnight success has 4 phases. How quickly can you get through each one?

Joe Procopio

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image by master1305

How long does it take for a startup to achieve “overnight success” and what does it take to get there?

Mistral AI just raised a record $113 million exactly one month after formation. This is going to go poorly. Maybe not for Mistral themselves, with a founding team of former Google and Meta folks, challenging OpenAI for the throne of Generative A.I. The jury will be out on that one for a while, as they now have plenty of screw-up money to burn through.

The damage will be done when the overnight success window of Generative A.I. slams shut. I’m concerned for:

  • The next 100 startups who raise obscene amounts of FOMO VC on “me too” ideas that are more pseudo-science than viable businesses.
  • The next 1,000 startups who spend chunks of their time and money fitting the square peg of “A.I.” (my quotes) into the round hole of their business model.
  • The next 10,000 founders who make painful and costly decisions for their startup in the name of chasing Mistral’s $135 million overnight success.

It’s like a pyramid of failure built on a base of plaster.

But don’t get me wrong. This isn’t about A.I. — A.I. is the real thing, and a big thing, and a serious thing. I’ve been working with Generative A.I. for almost 15 years, and it’s been good to me.

I’m not worried about the A.I. angle. I’m worried about the overnight success bit.

Success is Boring

A headline like Mistral’s $135 million windfall is a particularly tough windmill to tilt at.

When a startup makes splashy headlines, seemingly coming out of nowhere to raise a massive funding round or get acquired before you’ve even heard of them, what usually gets swept under the rug is the time, sweat, money, and lucky breaks that put them into that position.

That stuff works against the headline clickbait, and rarely even makes the 10th paragraph of the story.

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Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com