Getting to "yes" in a world of "no"…


In a few weeks’ time, I’ll be giving a lecture at University College London as part of their Entrepreneurship Guest Lecture series. Between you and me, my guess is that the organizers asked me because I’m specifically not one of the numerous “startup success theatre” aren’t-I-clever-for-getting-funded-don’t-you-wish-you-were-as-clever-as-me types you typically find putting themselves forward for lectures. Rather, what seems to have attracted their attention is simply that my whole funding startups blog tends to come across as a bit combative and controversial, and everyone loves a bit of a fight. 🙂

Naturally, I’d be a tad disappointed if my lecture didn’t actually run into some kind of stand-up disagreement. Given that just about everything I’ve written here runs counter to how startups are generally (you would think, from the toxic blather usually passed off as startup wisdom) supposed to work, I would probably be somewhat sad to discover that I had become the voice of the mainstream. 🙂

Anyway, to prepare for the lecture I’ve put together a minimalistic set of slides on the theme of “40 Reasons Not To Start Up” This quickly runs through forty distinct single-line reasons that you shouldn’t start up a company (and, as a punchline, the one half-reason why you should).  Yes, it has more than a passing similarity to Dave McClure’s well-known “Why Not To Do A Startup” 2010 talk (slides here, video here), but I like to think I’m talking from the right other side of the fence. 😉

Right now, I have no idea if this presentation is overly sensible, overly negative or overly antagonistic: should it be even stronger (have I missed some really big reasons?) or dramatically toned down? I’d really appreciate your comments, thanks!

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Comments on: "Upcoming UCL “Entrepreneurship Guest Lecture”… please help!" (7)

  1. Agree wholeheartedly except with the bit about Tech Crunch – they do carry bad news as well as good, and act as standard bearers for the industry – the thing that fans the flames of what we all want to be doing….

    Does this need slides though?

    • Claire: I like TechCrunch, I’ve even written (slightly contrarian) guest posts for it. But all the same, the overwhelming majority of the stuff it publishes is simply “success theatre”. The problem is that when people start up, they often look to funding news sources such as TechCrunch to validate their notion that there’s loads of funding out there just waiting to be had. Which is not true… or at least so massively contingent on other factors out of their reach to be not practically true. 😦

      As for the slides, I’m still debating the best way of presenting this. This is just a work in progress, the lecture’s next month! 🙂

  2. Great list! A few made me laugh especially “History as written by lottery winners”. I think it’s a little too pessimistic but mostly true unfortunately.

  3. […] of my presentation for next month’s UCL Entrepreneurship Guest Lecture I posted here a few days ago. Yes, it definitely needed more structure (thanks Larry), more clarity of purpose […]

  4. That was lots of fun and a good laugh. However, the first slide is “80% startups fail” maybe talk about the 5%+ that do make it year on year – surely they are not all lottery winners. Again, great sobering stuff to anyone who is thinking about starting up.

    • Manni: I suspect most entrepreneurs will have more to learn from the 80%+ of startups who fail than from the tiny percentage who succeed spectacularly. But guess which group you’ll find in abundance on TechCrunch? =:-o

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