beware the startups cargo cult

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Post on 15-Jul-2015




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  • by Max Gurvits

    Beware the Startups Cargo Cult

  • Follow me: @MxGur @CCCStartups

    Max Gurvits

  • So what is a CARGO CULT?

  • The form is perfect. It looks exactly the way it looked before. But it doesn't work. So I call these things cargo cult science, because they follow all the apparent precepts and forms, but they're missing the essential parts.

    Richard Feynman Surely Youre Joking, Mr. Feynman, 1974

  • Burning Man 2013

  • Sounds familiar?

  • What if its the same for startups?

  • No, seriously

    Hype Social elevator


    No responsibility

  • But in reality

  • Its a pain

  • There are two phases in startups

  • Before validation: Stay cheap

  • Before validation: Iterate, Experiment

  • Before validation: Understand Problem

  • Cargo Cult #1: Accelerators

  • Reality:

  • Cargo Cult #2: Pitching Fetish

  • First pitch

  • Second pitch

  • Elevator pitch

    - What - How - Why

    - Tech jargon - Explanation - Boring

  • Best elevator pitch

  • Cargo Cult #3: LEAN

  • All those books sell really well

  • But everything has been said by


  • Lean only teaches you how to fail in acceptable ways

  • Cargo Cult #4: MVP

  • MVP is established through discovery

  • Remember the two Mileys?

  • How do you know validation?

  • No hard numbers, just indicators:

    20+ recurring business/enterprise subscriptions 3x/5x in waiting list 1 distribution partnership Monthly break-even revenues

  • No hard numbers, just indicators:

    100,000 downloads Double-digit MoM growth

  • Cargo Cult #5: Adjacent geography

  • How the World Really Looks Like

  • Cargo Cult #6: Just Add Money

  • Cargo Cult #7: Rockstar founders

  • Cargo Cult #8: Just add sales

  • Instead of cults, focus on real goals

  • Good cult 1: HUSTLE

  • Good cult 2: MARKETS

  • Good cult 3: CUSTOMERS

  • Good cult 4: TALENT

  • Forget cargo cults: This Is SPARTA

  • Follow me: @MxGur @CCCStartups

    Max Gurvits