My Startup Is Too Cool for Your Business School

An article I read on Tech Crunch recently got me thinking about startup culture.

In Are You Building A Company, Or Just Your Credentials Geoff Lewis, expressed his distaste for a friend’s plan to get on Y Combinator’s ‘no idea’ startup incubation program.

In this experimental approach, groups or individuals with a desire to be part of a startup but who have no product or business idea, to begin with, can apply.

Startup for Your Business School

My Perspective About Startup

The thinking I believe, is that since brilliant ideas aren’t the only factor for startup success (many other factors like organization skills, business savvy and tenacity matter too) YC will dig into their vault of ideas and match one that’s most suitable to these idea-starved groups.

Firstly, reading this I could sympathize with the discontent. Venture capitalists exist for people who have an idea and want to realize it. There are already programs for people who don’t have an idea but want to achieve some success. They are called “careers”.

However, if you look at it from an incubator’s perspective, it’s a pretty clever and measured approach. YC knows what sort of group dynamic in startups has a higher chance of success and it is casting its net wide to find them.

But Lewis took issue with the fact that his MBA-qualified, credential-seeking buddy was signing up with YC presumably just to add to his blue-ribbon collection.

What’s Interesting About These Articles?

With such articles what’s usually more interesting is the comments they elicit. Many who reacted responded with the same feelings of contempt; calling paper-chasers ‘hucksters’ and scoffing at their lack of passion and sincerity.

The tone among some carried this notion that startups were a special breed of entrepreneurs burdened with some sort of higher calling to liberate the world; money and honor being an afterthought.

Not being directly part of the startup circle, so to speak, I found the reaction amusing and frankly, rather foolish. Are people involved in startups turning into a sort of in-group? Do they really think of themselves as some kind of mutant strain of businesses that are different from ‘regular’ enterprises?

The Diversity of Startup Success

If we look at the richest Internet companies today, once startups themselves, they are no less motivated by avarice and the bottom line. So, why be so judgmental of Mr. MBA treating the YC program as a way to gain credentials?

I bet many talented individuals are going to have a go at it for the same reason if not a variety of reasons. As the program draws out, I suspect the number of participants will peter out by attrition anyway.

And who’s to say not coming up with a disruptive idea makes you less enterprising? Think of startups as team sports. There are some teams that innovate with the most creative gameplay that catch their opponents off-guard. There are teams that win by consistency and endurance, doing the same thing well over many years to pull ahead of the pack.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why Do People Start Their Own Startups?

Many entrepreneurs start their own startups because they can get the flexibility of choosing projects and setting their own work schedules.

How Do You Appreciate a Startup?

You can appreciate a startup in many ways. Say, Best wishes on your startup! May your new business bring happiness and growth opportunities. Keep up the great work, many are learning from you.


To cast aspersions on the motivations of others and to let silly prejudices limit participation seems discordant with the spirit of the Internet itself, where challenging convention is the order of the day and everyone is entitled to a shot at success.

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