On Wednesday night I attended a talk at the University of Sydney by two of the founders of The Iconic. Most of you should know what The Iconic is, especially if you have the internet radio or tv. One of the things that I didn’t know about the Iconic was that it was a manufactured startup, like One Direction – but a tech business.
The founders were hand picked from BCG by Rocket Internet, a VC company that is backed by guys with deep pockets and a killer strategy for growing internet and e-commerce businesses from the ground up. Looking at the teams they have assembled from around the world for the huge list of businesses they are backing, they have a penchant for picking strategy consultants -something that is quite obviously working, I mean The Iconic does apparently do over 10 million dollars a month.
But can you call yourself a founder if you never actually came up with the idea in the first place? Is there a difference between starting something from scratch and being given a basic outline and template and asked to replicate and build?
I think the purist in me says, yes there is a difference. The purist in me is probably annoyed that there is no story of struggle, two minute noodle eating, verge of bankruptcy but backed themselves tale, that inspires me to keep working hard to achieve what they have. Yuck. What a purist hipster attitude that is. And that is why The Iconic is making more money than me.
The fact they have had millions of dollars backing them from day one, may lead one to assume that this is why they have been able to grow so quick, sure it has accelerated their timeline, but the real reason behind the success of these founders actually lies in the fact they were consultants. By nature strategists are used to working “on the business” never “in the business” and it’s that which has propelled them forward the most.
As soon as I saw the talk, I went home and changed my plans that were laid out for 2013, the pennies dropped, how would I approach this if I was managing a project for a corporate? How would I insure I reach the revenue goals if I had a team? I worked it all backwards and then stripped it down to make it lean and affordable for the current cashflow in the company.
Startups don’t have to be about struggle stories, [the problem is we love hearing them] and I have seen many dismiss those financed by other means outside of capital raising and people putting them in the “not fair” category simply because it does not fit their ideals of what a startup is.
Who cares. They certainly don’t and while you are whinging they are making 10 million a month.
photo: the australian