back to article Business plans, good ideas, and 8 other myths about startups – by Indiegogo's CEO

"We have the ability to be an entrepreneur beaten out of us," explained the CEO of funding site Indiegogo Slava Rubin, in front of a big picture of a kettle. Rubin was giving the closing keynote at this week's Vator Splash in Oakland – his backyard, he told us. "I turned down South by Southwest, but Oakland? Yes to Oakland." …

  1. JacobZ

    #4: No Plan...

    Similar in spirit to the famous Tyson quote is the military maxim, "No plan survives first contact with the enemy".

    There are many variations on this, variously attributed to whoever is the most famous general of the moment, but the oldest appears to be from Helmuth Von Moltke in the mid-nineteenth century. His original was a great deal less elegant and succinct, but that's not entirely his fault since he spoke German.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: #4: No Plan...

      Helmuth Von Moltke in the mid-nineteenth century?

      Probably in Sun Tzu's "Art of War". 孫子兵法 perhaps 512BC, at least between 205BC and 220AD. I bet he could do a good talk on entrepreneuring. While in a sense some of the points are a bit screwy, the overall flavour is right.

      Talk to any sensible accountant and you'll always see how you don't have enough money or resources to start etc. But how many big company are:

      1: Started by people with a passion to do it VS an Accountant

      2: Are asset stripped by an "accountant" later.

      3: Gradually run into the ground after founder has left/retired/died by watching cost centres and "bottom line" rather than a passion for the "product"/"service"/"customer".

      Mines the one with Government Development Authority leaflets in the pocket.

      Also ever noticed that outside USA (UK & Ireland esp.) you can only get money if you prove you don't need it?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: #4: No Plan...

      I'm always amused when one-trick-ponies like Mr. Rubin pontificate on what it takes to succeed.

      I spent a huge amount of my career in Silicon Valley as well as along Boston's 128, and while not obscenely wealthy, I've secured a comfortable future via multiple startups. The big lesson I learned is that the difference between folks like Horowitz, Zuckerberg, Yang, Page, Brin, Joy, McNealy, Khosla, etc and the thousands of others who are just as smart & hardworking but didn't get obscenely rich is, drum roll please, a large element of luck. Don't get me wrong - you have to be able to recognize & seize the moment if it arises, and those guys all did, but again, there are many in SV just as gifted & driven where luck had it that "the moment" to take advantage never arose. Folks can do everything right and still fail, or simply not explode, and still not end up filthy rich in the end. Market conditions can turn on a dime (e.g. 2008 economic crisis), be blindsided by an unforeseeable alternative product sometimes funded by your own VC's who maybe even feed that other startup proprietary info from your startup that was key for them, or I've even seen "the plug" pulled by VC's as a strategic move. Once you have a certain threshold of wealth, be it from SV or anywhere else, setting up (or joining ) a VC firm to continue wealth building isn't as hard as a lot of VC's would like the public to think. And VC's are very big at turning lemons into lemonade on paper, often by having one of their startups buy out another that is failing so the failure can be a "successful exit".

    3. toughluck

      Re: #4: No Plan...

      Eisenhower once remarked: In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable.

  2. silent_count

    Tyson & Spinks

    Was the only boxing match which I went out of my way to see.

    It was before I was old enough to drive, so an hour by train to get to festival hall in Melbourne to pay $20 to watch it on a big screen.

    There were a few hours of underwhelming undercard fights with me sitting in a non-air conditioned hall with a thousand, or so, other people on a stinking hot day.

    There was a forty-five minute delay after the last undercard fight because the ref wasn't happy with one of Tyson's gloves. This involved his hands getting rewrapped, and the ref still wasn't happy, and on it dragged, and on I melted.

    Then the announcements.

    Then the fight... all 91 seconds before Tyson knocked Spinks out.

    Then I left. Another hour on the train and I arrive home just in time to see the whole fight again in the 6pm news broadcast.

  3. John Deeb

    And what about chance

    What I miss in the story is the most obvious myth buster of them all: a lot is about pure chance. Or random arrangements which just work while everyone else is left studying the exact formula or magic taking place. The ones with success are always tempted to think they got some clear idea why it worked so well and the "losers" often blame themselves or some list of errors in their strategy. While it can be that, please be aware that in the end, well, just allow some room for pure luck -- like the right time, place and people happening to be there.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: And what about chance

      Right Time and place and luck:



      Serious Engineering Effort

      HP start up in late 1930s.

      RCA & EMI producing Electronic TV.

      Serious Marketing Effort and right Time


      Hollerith Business Machines (later IBM).

      1. h3

        Re: And what about chance

        What Wozniak did was not lucky. Nobody else has ever done what he did.

    2. Mark 65 Silver badge

      Re: And what about chance

      Never ceases to amaze me the number of "successful" people who spout shit about their success being down to getting up early, yoga, diet, or some other shit when in the end the biggest part is chance or simple plain old good luck. Nicholas Nasim Taleb's Fooled by Randomness should be compulsory reading for these people before they start on the sermon circuit.

      1. Cliff

        Re: And what about chance

        Luck. The honest successful entrepreneurs will tell you they had (amidst the early mornings, poverty, etc) a dose of luck. They may tell you they made that luck (indeed they may have broadened the gene pool so a chance meeting was more likely), but at least be frank about the luck element.

        If nothing else, you get lucky that your sector takes off, or that you were gifted with an idea, or that you were born into a family where you had contacts in government, or went to school with a rich kid wanting to take a punt. Or lucky that you are smart, don't have cancer, live in an enabling age, etc. Luck is still inevitably a real factor one way or another.

        Advice is of varying value, it's always worth listening, but it's always worth remembering who's dispensing it and why. I listen to a lot of advice, some of it 'feels right', some is just bollocks, but it's always worth listening. That guy spouting mostly crap might also have a turn of phrase for something that hits it on the head, or inspires another idea.

        My advice to everyone is to listen to anyone offering advice, but act upon it selectively (including this advice).

  4. DropBear

    Idea? Business plan? Nah. That's myth no. 11 right there for you. What you actually need to succeed is the combination of a tech-savvy geek nerd STEM aficionado and a people-savvy vicious sociopath college dropout business professional (at least in the tech biz) - oh, and a s##tload of luck and just the right circumstances. After all, quite obviously not everyone can deliver all that raw talent and back-breaking hard work that it takes to succeed, like, say, Justin Bieber can...

    1. Cliff

      You need ¡Bong!

  5. gerdesj Silver badge

    All very well

    What would be nice is to hear a slack handful of myths from someone who didn't end up with a massive .com beastie. Someone who is a bit more like us ...

    For those in the UK, you might like to look at the stats here:

  6. localzuk


    Nearly all of these depend on the business type. I mean, I have an idea for a company, but in order to do it I would need to quit my job and have money to live off for a year to get things started. That means I'd need money for living costs, equipment, business supplies etc... At a conservative estimate, that's at least £30k (considering the cost of living down here anyway. I suppose it could drop if I moved up north, but then I'd not be near my support network). To me, that's a huge amount of money!

    Business plan - pretty sure that to find that sort of money, people will want to see a pretty detailed business plan.

    Brand/PR - this depends on the market. If the market is full of competitors which have swish marketing then turning up in a jalopy and having a HTML3 website isn't going to help you.

  7. smartypants

    Sideshow Bunny at fair explains how to get shot

    There were tens of us lined up against the wall. In order to be the one to get hit by the air pellet, you have to live the five signs of success:

    1. A positive attitude.

    2. Winner eyes.

    3. Organic carrots.

    4. A target on your belly. Punters can't resist a good target.

    5. Certainly not luck. (It was all my own doing!)

  8. All names Taken

    In the UK ...

    ... most business enterprise courses start and end with "pay your taxes"?

    It seems to be a technicality with course authors hoping for more business by providing a "Borg me. I am willing and able to be borged." profile to funding providers?

    1. Cliff

      Re: In the UK ...

      'pay your taxes' - 1) so you're a net contributor to the economy, not a parasite and 2) failing to pay taxes was what nailed Al Capone (they couldn't get him on the murder, extortion, drugs, booze, prostitution, protection, corruption and other rackets)

  9. CanadaGrandpaChris

    2015 eBike raised 5 Million

    For me the year began by a net CDN $900 eBike Perk.

    It will end when this bike arrives!

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