Thinking about hacking the system to get away from all boring responsibility? I have good news for you. Secret passage to Neverland is open.
Life gets boring once you finish higher education. Out of a sudden, you have to be… mature. Get a job. Pay off your student loan. Darn. Which smart, audacious twenty-something-year-olds would want that? Can we do something about it?
I’m glad you’re asking. Welcome to the Start-up World.
We like to call this place The Lost Boys’ Biggest Dream. Here we have The Giant Playground, generously furnished with beer fountains, ping-pong tables, and other useless shiz. Your Big Uncles provide you with all the money you need, and magic fairies take care of every boring part of your life (think: laundry, accounting, bureaucracy. They even take out the trash and change toiler rolls!) All you need to do is play: write code, design shiny graphics, make some buzz in social media. Pizza will be delivered right to your desk every afternoon.
Don’t worry about scratching your knees in the process. All your failures will be forgiven; it’s risky play, after all. If you fall, there, there, get some more money and you can start again.
Too good to be true? Well, we have seen quite a few little boys being successful, so we want to scale the model. Come and join us, life can be a fairy tale!
But remember, it’s all about quick wins. Your success needs to be immediate or it doesn’t count. What is your unfair advantage? Tell me your elevator pitch. How are you going to outsmart your competition? What, you still thinking? Pff, looser! I’m already three ideas ahead! C’mon, give me the answers! Give me the numbers! Now! Faster! More! Get big, get fast or get the fuck out NOW!
Wait, you got burned out? Depressed? Don’t want to play anymore? Oh, well. Work hard, play hard. Die young. These are the rules.
So, remember: if you are any different, if you are not aggressive, not dedicated, not masochistic enough, don’t even try to venture into The Giant Playground. You’ll drop out. You’ll look silly. Are you a woman trying to raise some investor’s money? Sorry, your idea is not boyish enough. Are you already in your thirties? Sorry, you don’t look good in boy’s shorts. If you are not a little boy, don’t try to become one. You can’t beat the Lost Boys in their own game.
Here is a recipe for the next big thing: build a giant playground, let some eager, aggressive, tenacious little boys in and watch them play. Some will broke their legs or scratch their noses. Some will steal other boys’ toys and claim their own. Some will fall into a giant puddle and drown. That’s fine. The strongest will survive. And their blood, sweat, and tears will summon the Next Unicorn. This magic beast will end up as a dandy gimmick, a fancy toy. After all, it will be little boys’ creation.
Nevertheless, little boys will love this arrangement. Infatuated with the possibility of creating something big and disruptive (they love breaking stuff, after all!), they will look up to their Big Uncles, dreaming that one day they can be just like them: creating amazing playgrounds. Allowing other little boys to never grow up.
If you want to make a dent in the Universe, don’t aim for a start-up. Don’t build another cool photo sharing / social media / shit-on-demand app for trendy Millennials. Leave the playground to the little boys and make something that matters. Show some guts, create a real business. Trendy wears off, stylish never does.
Sure you may never make it to the top of Hacker News. Sustainable growth and steady profit are not as sexy as an alleged over-night success. But innovative businesses are created all the time. Smart, creative people don’t have to go to the playground to build something truly great.
So don’t try to be a sensation. Stop chasing the unicorn — grow, the fuck, up. Start a business, not a start-up.