26 June 2016

In retrospect trying to work out why something is successful is like trying to describe the taste of water.

It’s challenging. 

What actually matters most for start-up success?

Today’s innovative start-ups are changing how we use technology, how we make our daily lives more productive and how we run our businesses. 

Innovative young entrepreneurs are changing how we use our mobile devices, how we interact with each other, what we share, how we share information with each other, how we consume information, how we listen to music, how we pay for products, how we travel and how we connect. 

Technology is only getting better, faster and smarter. 

Start-ups don’t win just because of better technology or features; they win because they solve real problems that demand clear and simple solutions.

Most of the start-ups which will be highlighted and discussed in my upcoming blog posts titled: ‘Case Studies Of Billionaire Brands’ started as simple ideas but over time have metamporphosized into how we use the internet, how we use our mobile devices, how we market our brands and how we connect with each other. 

Once we have dissected these successful brands we will then dive into the lessons behind failed start-ups (you can read more about why you need to fail in order to succeed here: http://www.daniellashapiro.com/blog/be-willing-to-fail-and-fall-flat-on-your-face 

First we will be focusing on SUCCESS.

You will find out what 20 of the most successful start-ups nailed when they launched to the public and what they are still doing right, now. 

These start-ups are disrupting their industries, creating job opportunities and have millions of users engaging with their brands.

As we explore this concept further you will find out: 

- How they got their ideas

- How they met their goals at the time of launch

- Which Marketing strategies they used

Key decisions they took when their businesses started growing

- What kind of company culture they have adopted

- What kind of hiring processes they use

- What their plans are for the future 

- The lessons they learned on the road to success

Most of these growth strategies and lessons were shared by founders and CEO’s of these start-ups on various media across the web and social media.

If the start-up organisation is so great, why do so many fail?

I wanted to understand this because I’ve been fascinated with business and entrepreneurship since I was 12 years old, when I started doing television adverts to make extra money in primary school; to high school, when I bought a trendy range of handbags and sold them to friends and family and; to college, when I bought over and owned the City2City Ultra Marathon with 2 partners. And finally when I graduated from college, I founded DaniellaShapiro.com.

I looked at a number of companies combined with industry knowledge and eventually came up with a list of five factors, which I believe, account the most for company success and failure:

1. The Idea

I used to think that the idea was everything. But over time, I came to think that maybe the team, the execution and adaptability mattered even more than the idea.

2. The Team Behind It

‘Teamwork makes the dream work.-Bang Gae

This is so spot on about business. 

Teamwork is being able to work together toward a common vision. 

It is the ability to direct individual accomplishment toward organizational objectives. 

It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.

Without the right team you will get nowhere. 

This is why I have come to think that maybe the team was the most important thing.

3. Business Model

Next I started analyzing the business model. 

Does the company have a very clear plan to generate customer revenues? 

Is the company scalable?

Maybe that’s what mattered most for success.

4. Funding

Sometimes companies received extreme amounts of funding. 

Maybe that’s the most important thing?

5. Timing

And then of course, the timing. 

Is the idea way too early and the world’s not ready for it?

Is it early, as in, you’re (in) advance and you have to educate the world?

Is it just right? 

Or is it too late, and there are already too many competitors?

Digging deeper, I looked at a number of different companies which have been very successful and others which failed to try and come up with the right formula - something scientific.

I first focused on those businesses which all became billion-dollar successes, to name a few :

- Airbnb, 

- Snapchat

- Instagram

- Uber

- YouTube

- LinkedIn

I also considered some of the biggest failures of all time:

- Webvan

- Quirky

- Rdio

- Flooz 

- Friendster

The latter had intense funding.

They even had business models in some cases, but they didn’t succeed.

I then analysed which factors actually accounted the most for success and failure across all of these companies.

The results really amazed me.

Eventually, the concentrated research led me to believe that the number one factor was…


Team and execution came in second, and the idea, the differentiability of the idea, and the uniqueness of the idea actually came in third.

The last two, business model and funding, made sense to me actually. 

I think a business model makes sense to be that low as you can start out without a business model and add one later if your customers are demanding what you’re creating. 

…And funding, I think if you’re underfunded at first but you’re gaining traction, especially in today’s age, it’s very, very easy to get strong funding.


For example: 

At first Airbnb was famously passed on by many smart investors because people thought, 

‘No one’s going to rent out a space in their home to a stranger’. 

Of course, people proved that wrong. But one of the reasons it succeeded, aside from a good business model, a good idea, great execution, is the timing.

Airbnb came out right during the height of the recession during the last decade, when people really needed the extra income, and that may have triggered people’s thoughts to overcome their objection to rent out their own home to a stranger.

Same thing with Uber. 

Uber came out :  incredible company, incredible business model and great execution.

But most importantly the timing was so perfect for their need to get drivers into the system. 

Drivers were looking for extra money; it was very important.

Timing is everything! 

In summary, I would say that execution matters a lot. 

The idea matters a lot. 

But timing might matter even more. 

The best way to really assess timing is to look at whether consumers are really ready for what you have  to offer them. 

You also need to be brutally honest with yourself about it.

Do not be in denial about any results that you see.

If you have something you are passionate about, you want to push it forward, but you have to be very honest and objective about the timing factor. 

I believe start-ups can change the world and make the world a better place. 

I hope some of these insights will help you have a slightly higher success ratio, and thus make something great come to the world that wouldn't have happened otherwise.

To be continued … :)

In my next post,  Part 2 - I will be discussing a business brand that has turned the word disruption on its head…

If you have a success story you want to share I would love to hear about it and feature it on my blog!


Want to book a one on one consultation with Daniella? E-mail: daniella@daniellashapiro.com

Want more?

You will also receive a FREE copy of my latest e-book : BRANDSTORMING

A step by step guide to creating a brand which is strong, consistent and basically bloody awesome!

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P.S. Still have a question that’s not covered here? Hit reply with your comments and feedback. I will make sure to get back to you ASAP! My team and I read and reply to every single email.

That’s a wrap.

Digitally Yours

DS xxx