Archive for July, 2011

Loving the Underdog! PART3 – Why we Love ’em

July 18, 2011

This is the final part to my Loving the Underdog blog series, with previous posts: PART1: The 800lb gorilla and PART2 – City of creation.

I’m continually amazed by the support and help my startup gets from other startup founders and company employees. They seem to go out of their way to help and support us without expecting anything in return. I’ve previously called this support Startup Karma in my ‘5 shocking things founding a startup’ post. This help is core to our economic innovation and creativity. Without startup karma we would be ruled by the same corporations forever!

Getting by with a little help from my friends
Nottingham Young Entrepreneurs Event

Startup Karma surprises and shocks you when it happens. Other founders survived to tell their tale and know exactly how hard it really is. Employees have recognised or have seen what a challenge a startup is. These people introduce you to others, give you valuable advice or become your early customers. They give you assistance when you really need it. They even sometimes put themselves into a difficult position to help. The catch is, startup Karma can’t be forced. You can’t ask for it. It just happens.

The reality is few people really want to work for a faceless corporation or company – see my post “Running a start-up is like being punched in the face repeatedly… but working for a large company is like being waterboarded.”. In our hearts we want to feel free to choose the things we want work on. The things that motivate us. In a big process driven organisation you are often told exactly what to do. Your creativity and entrepreneurial spirit is gradually worn away.

We see the potential, the creative spirit in younger companies and sometimes we’re in a position to help them along the way. We believe in hope. ‘They just might beat the big guys..’ This little v’s big scenario is played out time and time again in business and in stories. Think:  Apple v’s IBM in the 80’s; Virgin Atlantic v’s British Airways; and Dyson v’s Hoover. Over and over again the cycle continues.

So why do we love and want to help the underdog so much..?

  1. Passion – It is easy to become enthused by the passion and determination of the underdog. They believe, have faith and are willing to sacrifice much.
  2. Control – Individuals, especially in the West don’t like the idea of being dominated by large companies or organisations. We have a long history of fighting for independence and freedom. Underdog’s help keep freedom.
  3. Making a difference – We all want to make a positive difference to the future. By helping the underdog we can influence the future. And we know helping the big companies will have little effect.
  4. Influence – By helping the underdog you can have much more say into how the product or service works.
  5. Innovation – The underdog is far more likely to innovate. They have no choice. A differentiated product/service has to be produced. This is good for everyone, especially those that have helped them on the way.

Of course, every dog eventually has its day. When a successful underdog inevitably becomes the dominant player the tables are turned and the whole cycle of little startup v’s big company then starts over again. It’s the great virtuous circle of our evolutionary economic system.

Me, I love being the underdog! It gives you something to fight for.

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