Getting to "yes" in a world of "no"…


OK, the following probably won’t mean much to (the overwhelming majority of?) startup people under 30, but it is what it is.

When I was a kid, I never really got Bananarama. If you managed to miss that particular treat, it was a three-girl pop band singing not brilliantly in slightly jokey videos wearing way too much foundation. As I saw it back then, they had a bit of music, a bit of style, and a bit of sexiness, but not really enough of any of the three to electrify me. Yet they enjoyed (and sustained) a fair bit of chart success.

What, then, was the secret of their success? Was it electrifying people or just ticking the quality boxes? Were Bananarama subtle musical geniuses, or an ISO 9001 certified factory cranking out music-related products?

Personally, I’m pretty sure that success has almost nothing to do with ‘secrets’ (which are, for the most part,  just props for retrospective “success theatre” presentations), but everything to do with working hard & engaging with your audience. And that’s as true for startups as it was for Bananarama.

Business angels claim to be looking to back edgy, exciting, rule-breaking companies, with an explosively dramatic story to tell on a big (world) stage – kind of “the Sex Pistols of startups”. Yet this is basically missing my point, which is that business success rarely comes from surfing some mad adrenaline-fueled development high, but usually comes instead from developing and growing a long-term relationship with an audience.

If Bananarama were a startup, how many angels would have invested in it?

And what kind of band would your startup be?

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