The Startup Ecosystem Is Beyond Broken
“What exactly is wrong with the startup ecosystem these days?”
That’s an exact quote from a colleague of mine. Like me, he has spent about 25 years as a working entrepreneur, although he is smarter and more successful than me. Better looking, too. He now spends the bulk of his time helping promising startups get their flywheel going.
The quote is from a recent email to me in which he was essentially throwing his hands up in frustration, after several years of watching fundamentals becoming more and more meaningless, and good companies being undone for the wrong reasons.
My response: “How much time do you have?”
Turns out he had quite a bit. So here’s the gist of my answer: If you’re wondering why your startup can’t get any traction, it might not be you. In fact, it probably isn’t you. Hell, let’s just go ahead and say the quiet part out loud:
It’s not you. It’s them.
If you feel the slightest twinge of agreement, read on and let’s get fired up, because I recently spent a lot of time thinking about this.
A Semi-Forced Darkness Retreat
I’m just now emerging from about three months worth of deep-dive, rabbit-hole, think-tank analysis of everything to do with startups — from a personal, local, regional, national, and world-wide perspective.
This wasn’t on purpose. Life threw me a series of curveballs in 2023, repeated hits below the belt that forced me out of my comfort zone. Actually, those hits launched me so far out of my comfort zone that, in terms of what one might call my “business belief system,” I wasn’t picking through rubble, I was sifting through ashes. I stopped writing, completely, and started re-learning.
My unflinching takeaway? The problem wasn’t me, it was misplaced faith in a broken system.
The entire startup ecosystem is beyond messed up. It’s the kind of fubar that — at this point — is now just feeding itself on its own money and hype, more hype than money, but enough money to make the hype seem warranted.