Startup Success: Timing is More Important Than The Product

Sep 25, 2019

The year you founded your startup or company has a lot to do with your chance of success as an entrepreneur than anything else, according to people who have been in the business of building companies.

When we often obsess with product and market, for most businesses it is often about the timing of market. A product simply does not make sense or cut it in the market if it is not released at the right time.

There are plenty of examples of products that died because they just came out in the wrong time. Danielle Morrill of MatterMark illustrates this quite clearly here:

“I think timing of *market* is more important than the product itself [....]. Why did Webvan fail where Instacart is succeeding? The market is different 20 years later, because of a bunch of exogenous factors that Webvan couldn't control. But Webvan couldn't survive long enough to take advantage of them.”

There is a widely popular TED talk on the importance of timing and why timing is the most important factor behind the success of any startup. According to Bill Gross, the founder of Idealab, an incubator of new inventions, ideas and businesses, the single biggest reason behind startup success is timing. Right timing of market makes all the difference.

Bill’s Idealab started hundreds of companies for last 20 years. He took the job of analyzing what contributed to the success of those that succeeded and failure of those that failed. To his surprise, he found that many great ideas failed just because they were ahead of time and many previously tried ideas succeeded because the market was ready by then.

Now, the question is how do you know you started at the right time. The honest answer is you can’t. But you can probably avoid the disadvantage of knowledge by copying something that did not work in the fast, like VR technology or the improvement of AI today.

There are other ways too. You can believe that yours is at the right time and have the patient capital to stay in the game for a longer period of a time so that your idea can mature.

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