Startups or Big Co?

Born between May 20 and June 20 – the astrological sign of Gemini, defined by the duality of the twins Castor and Pollux, lurks around every corner. While at UVA for undergraduate studies – this was captured in two different majors – biology and economics.

After moving on from an advanced industrial process company where I ultimately served as CEO for two years, interviews prompted another duality;

“Are you a startup guy or a big company guy?”

Questions like this are reasons to always be interviewing.  I didn’t have a clear answer. With some reflection:

The Entrepreneur’s Journey (out of Techstars) is a great framework.

  • I’m a 60/40 startup guy vs BigCo guy.
  • What matters most to me is being effective and getting things done. The best way to predict this is knowledge and appreciation of the needs of a vertical / end industry.
  • I’m a data driven industrial guy.
  • Different settings ask for different skills.  Sometimes the way of the startup is right, sometimes the resources of the big company are right.
  • Some customer problems in the world of data driven industry are best solved by startups, but the constraints occur in the asset base of a large customer.  The major reason startups have failed in heavy industry is the constraints in the customer base.
  • There are lots of people who are drawn to entrepreneurship because they are sold on the fast paced environment and ability to have a big impact.  Industrial customers tend to chew up those living for this part of the Entrepreneur’s Journey.

Being a “startup person” or a “big company person” is as much about your personal commitment to what you are doing.  Sometimes a startup mentality is essential, and sometimes new technologies can only win in a startup.  In industrial technologies, the  constraint is the asset base and it sits in a big company. To win in industry, you’ve got to have an entrepreneurial mindset balanced with political patience.

About flybrand1976

Find me on twitter @flybrand.
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