Thursday, March 8, 2018

Pound The Rock

Elon Musk has said that 99% of startups fail. That's not really good odds. Or is it? Let's say you did a 12 startups in 12 months approach. After a year you'd have a 12%  chance of at least one of them succeeding. After 2 years, 24%. After 3 years, 36%, After 4 years you'd have 48 projects and a near coinflip that one of your projects panned out. You'd get near a 100% chance around the 96th month.

But that's assuming you aren't getting better. After you fail at a startup you will learn a ton and your chances of a successful startup should probably be better on your second go. Let's assume that you get better by 10% each startup. Then your graph looks like this:
This is a huge change. Your 50% chance of success happens around the 19th month. After working 25 months you would be near a 100% chance that one of your previous projects would have succeeded.

Obviously these numbers are pulled out of nowhere and my statistics are questionable. But the point of this is to quickly illustrate how little improvements go a long way. This is why its so important for founders to have momentum and ship, even thought it might not work out. Their previous failures act as stepping stones, increasing their odds of success down the line.

I'll leave with one of my favorite quotes:

“When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter
hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as
much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first
blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that last
blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”

― Jacob A. Riis