I recently had the pleasure to sit down, via Zoom of course,  with the master of startups himself, Pat Conte. Pat has been transforming startups for almost as long as I have been alive. So, you can say there is not a lot that surprises him.

“How long have you been involved in startups?”

“More than 20 years. Sounds like a long time, but it’s gone by in a blink of an eye.” 

Pat has applied his experience and expertise with over 7 different startups, many with different technologies, size of customers, and vertical markets.  He has worked in industries all across the board and has exited 3 Startups that have made their way into being important parts of public companies including NVidia (NVDA), Oracle (ORCL) and Cisco Systems (CSCO).  He has had a number of other successes and also a few that didn’t reach their potential.

“The scars are as important as the glory.”  If you don’t fail, you won’t learn what to do and what not to do, Pat says.

So, now to answer the question why you’re here. 

“Startups have a unique place in the technology ecosystem.  They do and try things that are hard for bigger companies to do.  Big companies are risk-averse, but Startups practically swim in risk every day so that we can address the daring, leading-edge, and newest challenges.  What’s better in business than that?  Nothing!”

“What are some key reasons that Startups fail?”

1) It all starts with the Fundamental Problem you founded your company to solve. If you focus on creating a company before you’ve identified a problem or visualize the solution, you are likely to fail.

2) Many entrepreneurs believe if they were successful in the past, they can then apply the same strategy to any problem and get a positive result. But every new opportunity requires a fresh approach. What worked for you in one industry does not mean it will carry over to another.

3)Many Startup execs make the mistake of bringing a known team to a new company, only to find it doesn’t work out. You need to build a team and company appropriate to your mission and built for solving your fundamental problem.

4)You have to be willing to challenge your existing assumptions about the fundamental problem and your approach to it. Companies that don’t constantly challenge themselves often miss changes to the environment that cause them to miss the opportunity.  Companies have to evolve – to do that. You have to keep the problem statement current.

5)Not taking into consideration the stakeholders in your market. In Startupland, things are guaranteed to go “sideways.”  The market dynamics will change, the economic environment will change, the competitive landscape will shift, and your partnerships will change. Companies that build teams that are flexible and adaptable have a better chance to succeed.

Now that you know some of the reasons that Startups fail, you might want to know how to make them successful! You’ll have to tune into our next blog.  Learn how Pat has helped a number of his Startups turn to gold. For more Opsani content, check out our last blog Bridging the Gap Between Management and DevOps As Cloud Adoption Increases.