Can you predict the winners?
I have to admit that I am not sure I can predict the winners.
When I look at some of the most hyped ventures out there like AirBnB and Twitter then I am not convinced I could have predicted that exactly those companies would go on and have billion dollar potential.
Even Paul Graham from Y-combinator admitted that he first thought that the idea behind AirBnB was really bad, but he decided to accept the team anyway, because he saw potential in the idea. But honestly, how many people could have predicted how fast that company would rise? Some of my question marks would have been:
- do people really want to rent out their apartments/houses on a daily/weekly basis – what about the risk of theft?
- do people really want to stay in other people’s homes – seems to intimate to me
- how do you solve the ghost city syndrom – you really need a lot of “suppliers” before this service becomes interesting for the users
But hey, they did it. Amazing!
Facebook was of course a good predictor that there would be more services within the space of sharing information about “what I am doing”, however, when I first signed up for the service I honestly felt it was a poor man’s version of facebook. Terrible look & feel and nothing really exciting. And no very obvious business model for the first many years – though here I must admit that the American’s are better in seeing the potential of growth companies and not worrying about revenues until several years down the line. Something I (and some other Europeans) could learn from.
The above examples illustrate to me how difficult it can be to predict the winners, and that is why I mainly focus on the team behind a startup and only secondarily look at the idea. And that is also why I love being involved with startupbootcamp where we have the chance to work with and nurture tens of startups (out of hundreds of applicants) each year in the surge for creating the next billion dollar company.