Chapter 8Testing your ideas

‘Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.’

Winston Churchill

We’ve already established that Moore’s Law and the accelerating pace of change is making it increasingly difficult to predict what will give businesses a competitive advantage going forward.

The impact of change and uncertainty is manifest in two developments. First, 50 per cent of the companies on the S&P500 index will be replaced within the next 10 years at current rates of churn, with the average company lifespan expected to fall to under 15 years by 2030, from a high of 60 in the mid 20th century when the technology underpinning business moved at an exponentially slower rate.

Second, venture capitalists are taking the machine-gun approach. Despite the fact that investing in early-stage innovation is the mandate of most VCs, great ideas, great teams and all the due diligence in the world aren’t enough to mitigate the uncertainty to a level where more than 10 per cent of VC investments amount to home runs. Venture capitalists invest across a number of startups and tend to hit one home run (a 100× return), a couple of base hits (10 – 20× returns) and seven strikeouts.

As already noted, market failure is the number one reason that startups fail.

‘I just know this will work’, ‘I think this is a good idea’ and statements to that effect are famous last words for many a failed entrepreneur. On this, Annie Duke, former World Series of Poker champion and author ...

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