Many startups are created as a result of a dream. The dream to make it big- the dream to be a force to reckon with. You start off with your little enterprise and confidence that one day, you and your company will be the ingredients of great proverbs. One common trend we’ve seen is entrepreneurs losing faith in their vision with time because things don’t take off as quickly as they expected them to when they started up. This is followed by a sense of dejection, loss of confidence, momentum and gradually a downward path.
Strangely the businesses and startup success stories that you idolize and are meant to inspire you can also trigger this feeling that your startup isn’t “succeeding” quick enough.
Think about it!
- Facebook has 600 million users …. I barely have 2000 after 1 year
- Google got great funding and went IPO so quick and here I am 4 years and counting, with no signs of an IPO
- Apples innovation has made them the number one tech brand in the world and I know I’m innovative but after 6 years …most people haven’t even heard about my company
The problem is when we look at success stories we wrongly assume that their success was instantaneous and that’s the way startup success should be. Truth is.. perhaps one in every several thousand businesses achieve quick success and all the others stick to what they are doing and become successful after persistence. However, getting in early as an investor or employee before the growth trajectory could prove highly successful.
Even the Big Daddies themselves had to wait to be where they are. Here’s a peek at how Facebook, Google and Apple the legends made it big….and then the fine print you need to note.
The Facebook Story:
Mark Zuckerburg (the founder of facebook and the man on whom the movie “The Social Network” was based) first wrote “Facemash” when he was a sophomore in Harvard (back in 2003). Soon, Facemash was shut down by the Harvard Administration.
He launched for a site called the facebook, in February 2004. Previously, this site used to be reserved for use by Harvard students only. Due to the great interest shown by the Harvard students, Facebook was also opened for students of Stanford, Yale and Columbia. Over time, it opened to majority of universities in USA and Canada.
In the summer of 2004 Facebook incorporated. Its first investment was from Peter Thiel, co founder of Paypal. By September 2006, Facebook was opened to anybody over the age of 13 with a valid email id. In November 2008, Facebook’s value was $41 billion approximately. By January 2011, Facebook is said to have 600 million active users.
Between the lines:
Facebook is one of those instant success stories. The story started in 2003. It only became truly open and as global in 2008. It’s now 8 years since it’s started and that’s still considered very fast success given the kind of success it’s had.
The Google Story:
Google is so called due to a spelling mistake. Larry Page and Sergey Brin who invented Google intended it to be Googol (the number 1 followed by a 100 zeroes). Page and Brin worked on a page ranking method for a search engine as their research project while in Stanford Universtiy.
Google was first registered on September 15th, 1997. It was incorporated on September 4, 1998. Almost a whole year later on the 7th of June 1999, they finally got major funding from some of the best Venture Capital firms like Kleiner Perkins Caufeild & Byers and Seqouia Capital. By 1999 also they had moved base to Palo Alto in California.
Five years later, in 2004, Google’s Initial Public Offering took place. It opened with $85 per share which made most of its employees very rich on paper. It’s shares hit an all time high of $700 on October 31, 2007.
Today Google has become an inseparable part of our lives. It’s even been accepted as a part of the language. To “google it” actually means to search for something online.
Between the lines:
Google has been around over 13 years now. Funding took them a year. IPO in 2004 which is still very fast by any standard. But how many start ups have had a story as big as Googles. One of the most inspiring stories around. Perhaps not the best yard stick to measuring success with time.
The Apple Story:
Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne together established Apple on the 1st of April, 1976. They wanted to sell Apple 1 a personal computer which was built by Wozniak. Apple was incorporated on the 3rd of January, 1977 without Wayne. He sold his share of the company to Jobs and Wozniak for $800.
Apple was funded by the multi millionaire Mike Markkula during the period of its incorporation. Its Initial Public Offering created 300 millionaires. Apple is credited for a number of great achievements- it struck a deal with Xerox so as to be able to develop computers with a Graphic User Interface, which Jobs was convinced was a thing of the future. Apple has also created the first portable computer or the predecessor of a laptop called the Mac Portable in 1989.
On October 2010, the shares hit an all time high at $300. Recent estimations show Apple’s valuations to be approximately $19.1 billion.From a computer consisting of a CPU, RAM and basic textual video clips to the iPhone 4, Apple has shown never ceasing innovation and futuristic thinking. It has revolutionized the computer age constantly moving forward.
Between the lines:
1976!!! Need we say more? Back in the day you were not cool because you owned a Mac. Apple’s success and path to being the number one technology brand wasn’t a quick one. If they quit trying in the 80’s or 90’s then they would never have been the Apple we adore today.
These legends built empires from scratch. Though they are the heroes for most of the start up entrepreneurs the one thing you should learn from their stories is that they did not build their empires in a day. After many highs and lows and not to mention many lawsuits, these companies are where they are today. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are most startups.
Be inspired by these stories but not let down that you’re business is not on the same trajectory as theirs and in time… and with persistence and open eyes, you too can get there.
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This entry was posted on Saturday, May 21st, 2011 at 1:38 pm and is filed under How to invest in startups. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.