The Dangerous Myth of Startup Overnight Success

Whether it’s an IPO or just a seed round, nothing happens as quickly as it seems

Joe Procopio
5 min readOct 7, 2021
Photo by SKYLAKE STUDIO on Unsplash

If you follow stories about startups, it's not hard to come away with the impression that a fair number of these new companies go from idea to multi-million dollar funding rounds in a matter of months or even weeks.

Of course, this isn't true. But that begs a questions that no one ever really answers:

How long does it really take to go from idea to successful startup?

I've founded, worked at, and advised dozens of startups over the years. And two of my own stand out as pretty decent examples.

  • ExitEvent was a three-year journey from launch to acquisition -- seemingly record time. But the full story was at least seven years in the making, built on technology I had first started developing in 1999. Yes, that is a one and a nine at the beginning of that year.
  • just celebrated its first full year live with paying customers and much success. I registered the URL back in 2014.

All good things take time. So here's a rough look at how much time those good things usually take, based on my experiences with startups that thrived, startups that failed, and startups that…



Joe Procopio

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