Top 10 Surefire Ways to Kill Your Startup by Artur Kurasiński


The post was originally published in Polish on Artur’s LinkedIn profile. Artur kindly agreed that we repost what we think is of great value to our readers.

Check out my 10 ways to smash, kill, destroy, and bury your startup. Why mine? Because I’ve made those mistakes in the past. Read and learn from my mistakes – you will save yourself a lot of stress and money:

  1. Artur Kurasiński, Serial Enrepreneur, Author, Creator

    One-man band – A founder who wants to code, design UX, talk to customers, sell, do promotion and marketing, negotiate with VCs… Unfortunately, this is very rare. A solid company must have clearly divided competences and a TEAM that can operate when the boss is missing.

  2. Sit back, code, and don’t ask your customers anything – Ah, typical! Take the money from the VC, lock yourself in a basement (or a garage if you’re in California) for two years, and then go out on the market and be surprised to find that customers don’t want your product because your competitors have created something similar a long time ago.
  3. Pointless copying – ‘We’ll just make Facebook with different features!’ No, you won’t. The best ideas come from a real pain and need: Page and Brin couldn’t find cool sites so they came up with Google. The creators of Airbnb couldn’t find a room at the time of an event so they created a platform for renting apartments.
  4. Technical debt – ‘Let’s do it quickly so that it works, and then it will improve someday’. Right, only that ‘someday’ never comes, and the code breaks down, starts to cause a lot of problems, and consumes more and more resource to revive it.
  5. Who is my audience? The worst answer is ‘’everybody.’ If you think this way – congratulations, now tell me, what advertising budget do you need to have to reach ‘everybody’ in the world? What specials do you want to offer? How do you stand out?
  6. ‘I don’t know this market, but I have this idea’ – Unfortunately, it won’t work out. If you don’t know the market in which you want to operate, then there’s no point in going further into the project and expenses. Market, customers, data, research, – that’s the basis!
  7. ‘We’ll sweep away the competition if only we offer the product at half price!’ – Most likely, the competition did their homework and counted all the costs in their Excel. When you go to a price war, you don’t know this data, so after a while it turns out that your business has no reason to exist.
  8. Lack of patience – I struggle with this all the time. The project has been launched, is the ad campaign running? Well, there must be something else you can do… No, not really. Soon enough, you’ll have to take care of thousands of things on the go!
  9. ‘It looks nice, but what exactly are we supposed to make money on?’ – if you ever hear such a sentence from an investor or a partner, it’s a sign that you have omitted a very important thing in your startup – the business model. Of course, there is always time to pivot.
  10. Choose random partners and expect miracles – Have you met someone at a party and see them as your future partner, who will support you every day for 10 years in your struggle, problems, and drudgery of running a business? Perhaps you should think again. You’ll see your partner more often than your family members!

The comment section had to add:

11 is ‘Our product solves a problem that doesn’t exist.’ It seems like a contradiction, but it’s quite widespread.

Zbigniew Nowicki, Partner at Full Stack Experts

There is only one thing with which I disagree. Controlled technical debt is, in my opinion, the best strategy. Too much attention paid to architecture/technologies at an early stage, when we know the least and the road to the goal has many turns, is a waste of money and other resources. I say this based on experience (organic construction of products from scratch, scaling to large enterprise solutions, including the largest regional medical platforms in Poland). Particularly, people with a technical background tend to come up with super flexible frameworks that later turn out to be based on wrong assumptions anyway. And also, according to what you write, you need to go out to the client as soon as possible and experiment. When you’re on the cutting edge, you’re entering areas – including tech – that don’t yet have fully developed best practices. And you make mistakes that eventually make you run faster.

Bartosz Pampuch, CEO at In4nity

So true! The advice is good for startups, but it also works well for any product development activity, even in a corporation.

Krzysztof Wysocki, Strategic Consulting Senior Sales Executive at Oracle


Comments are closed.