The secret of startup success

Entrepreneurship / 11 December 2019

Due to the interaction between so many factors that matter for a startup triumph, a successful startup creation process is probably one of the most complicated thing to explain.

Is the idea the precondition that matters the most for a startup success? Or maybe the business model? How would be able to succeed if you are not going to make money? The funding remains also a very important step to succeed, without it you will not have the chance to be one day the CEO of yourself. Even the team and timing have to be seriously considered.

Startup Success

According to you; What factors matter the most for startup success?

This article, based on Idealab CEO Bill Gross speech, is showing you that the timing is the single biggest reason why startup succeed!


Bill Gross, Idealab former CEO. Idealab is an incubator of new inventions, ideas and businesses, based in Pasadena, CA, United States. They have created more than 150 companies since 45 years. Thus, Bill Gross is probably one of the most advised and informed person around the world regarding the startup creation process.

June 2015, Vancouver, Bill Gross gave a TED Talks speech called “The single biggest reason why startup succeed”.

He took a quantitative approach by analyzing 200 companies. 100 he has worked with, and 100 other that he had not.

For instance he took very famous company like Airbnb, Instagram,, Friendster, Linkedin, and more.

He looked at a few factors that he considered important to get to the one factor that accounts for a startups success. 
The results are going to surprise you… 


Startup Success 5 Factors 1


The funding is a very important step to succeed, that will be always true! However, on Bill Gross scale, funding is the last factor that matters the most for startup succeed. In fact well funded companies represent only 14% of success ratio.


How would you like to succeed if you don’t know how to make money? It seems quite obvious that companies cannot succeed if they are not profitable. Nevertheless, the business model is not on the podium of the things that matter the most for success. Bill took a very interesting exemple, YouTube.

In fact, YouTube didn’t have a business model when it first starts! They weren’t even certain that it would work! Progressively they started to fiugre out how to make money.

IDEA – 28%

For many people, the idea is probably the most important thing to have to create a successful story! You start dreaming as soon as you get (at least you think so!) a revolutionnal idea that will make you a billion dollar CEO.

According to the quantitative study made by Bill Gross, companies that have great ideas, in the sense of the differentiability of the ideas, the uniqueness of the ideas, came in third place and accounted for 28% of the difference between success and failure.

TEAM – 32%

Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face

Mike Tyson

The american former professionnal boxer Mike Tyson’s quote is also true in business. In fact, so much about a team’s execution is its ability to adapt to getting punched in the face by the customer.

Therefore, the team is really important for startup success and accounted for 32% according to Bill Gross’ quantitative study.

TIMING – 42%

Timing Is Everything

Timing is the most important thing you should look at when you start thinking about your company!

  • Is this project way too early? The world is not ready for it.
  • Is this project early? You have to educate the world.
  • Is that the right time? Go for it!
  • Is the project coming too late? There is already too many competitors on the market.

The following example will show you how much the timing counts to be successfull. and YouTube was an online entertainment company. Idealab raised enough money for, they came up with a great business model and signed great Hollywood talent to join the company.

However, broadband penetration was too low in 1999-2000, it was too hard to watch video content online. Finally, the company went out of business in 2003.

Two years later, the codec problem was solved by Adobe Flash and when broadband penetration crossed 50 percent in America, YouTube was created at the right time! Great idea but unbelievable timing.

What about you?

Have already started thinking about your own company?

Is that the right time for it?


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Julien Mendez

29 years old Engineer and MBA graduate passionate by strategy, finance and business development.

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