Apr 26, 2023
We often get asked why we got into the super early-stage startup game and decided to focus on what is decidedly risky. Why we focused on the founders… the people… who had a great idea but weren’t entirely sure how to get where they wanted to go. Why did we focus on people who have made what some might call fatal mistakes?
Fundamentally, there are many reasons we created Seirios to address the needs of these founders beyond the fact that we love having the unique opportunity to work with people at their most excited and sometimes most vulnerable.
In actuality, there are ten reasons we do what we do.
The traditional early-stage creation process is broken
While there are exceptions to every rule, our experiences and research show that the traditional idea → incubator → accelerator → VC/investor funding model is failing founders from the start: The incubator. While we will detail why this problem exists in another post (it’s a long list), the overall problem is the institutionalization of the incubator.
This leads us to reason #2.
The commercialization of incubators has led to bad actors, low levels of support, and generic approaches
The number of incubators has dramatically increased in the last few years. In 1980, there were 12 accelerators and incubators worldwide. In 2022, there were 7,000+ incubators worldwide, with 1400+ in the US alone.
Why? There’s money to be made. But to create this dramatic growth, the incubator has morphed from its roots to a commercialized and standardized model focused more their own revenue than the unique needs of the founder.
The ideal approach to building startups is to use a model driven by the founder's needs.
Each founder is different, with different goals, different expertise, different needs, and different blind spots. Generic approaches don’t tend to fully address and celebrate the unique nature of these mavericks and pioneers.
Building startups has to be a hyper-collaborative process.
The original incubator model was built with the idea that collaboration was the absolute key to success and that fostering that collaboration through shared space and resources encourages those interactions. However, that focus has decreased over the years and has re-orientated towards mass education, large scale mentorship, etc. while downplaying the interactions based on community, leveraging crowdsourcing, and the value of the group-think.
Founders don’t have to do everything from scratch.
Copying the wheel is not innovative. By careful prioritization, awareness of problems that have already defined solutions, and accessible communication with others, much of the time, scope, and cost can be easily driven out of the process.
The right tools and the right approach save time and money.
Building on #5 - choosing the right approach and incorporating the already available scalable tools, software, and solutions matching the stage of the startup saves time and money - two of the biggest reasons startups fail. But right now, the largest source of guidance on these tools is the manufacturers themselves.
You should meet people where they are, not where you feel they should be.
Honest conversations about money, gaps, issues, constraints etc. are the foundations of startup development. While those conversations may happen in the current incubator models, they often aren’t directly addressed when founders are put into standardized models. The model needs to adapt to the needs of the individual founder, not the needs of the company behind the incubator.
Failures have great value.
The idea of failure has a stigma. That stigma stifles creativity, innovation, speed, and quality decisions - all of which create have a dangerous snowball effect on the success of a startup. Failure needs to be respected for the opportunity it creates. But to do that, we need to return to a place where iteration, fast and honest recognition of the glitches, and educated decisions about pivots are valued higher than plowing ahead with original plans for fear of appearances.
It takes a village based on trust.
Advice, guidance, and support come from many places, but founders should be aware of bias and the motives behind that advice. The best advisors seek others from various disciplines, communities, and practices to help inform how they support founders and share those collaborators with founders. Transparency, diversity of thought and approach, and the support of community is how trust is built.
Technology is not the only thing that makes a startup.
Technology without the supportive infrastructure around it does not make a company. Startups are, first and foremost, companies. Founders need to take a holistic approach to building their business not just by building the next great thing in tech, but by building the superstructure around that tech at the same time. Tech without the non-tech support services necessary to make the customer experience smooth and unified rarely is successful. Product market fit is vital, but the market rarely tolerates partial solutions.
We know that these philosophies are high level and may even come across a bit “idealistic.” And we are ok with that - in fact, better than ok. We’ve embedded them in our model, our approaches, and the way we differentiate ourselves. We use them as a guide to keep ourselves on track as we grow and scale (we are after all, a startup too).
Because these ideals are the two of us. They are Seirios Technologies.
Kelly and Tim