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Turbulence and the Start Up Bubble- “If you freak out, I’ll freak out”.

Published: Apr 9, 2011 2:58 pm

Editor’s note: The following is a guest post written by Jason Lorimer from CulturaHQ.

I was recently on a Southwest Airlines flight (not this one thankfully) from Philadelphia to Chicago, sitting next to a beautiful blond woman. Her being in the same general line of work and me being a nervous talker, we passed the time by talking shop. Specifically, how we were both amazed at how few innovative ideas seemed to be coming out the abundance of start up companies popping up all across the US.

How many task tracking and photo applications does the world really need?

With all the low hanging fruit out there waiting to be disrupted, why did everyone seem to be trying to build a better version of the same dozen or so things. My seat buddy, as adorable as she is smart, said:

“They build for the funding first and the customer second.”

Obvious and insightful — Marry me I thought.

On the return trip some days later, I sat in the back row having shown up late to the gate and was greeted with some of the worst turbulence I’d ever experienced. Not so bad in it’s depth as it was in it’s length. For several minutes at varying intervals, this 747 was being thrown around like a rag doll. Being in the back row and an avid people watcher, I noticed something that allowed me to refocus my brain away from the sheer terror that was creeping up my neck. The turbulence had gotten so bad that people were starting to be alarmed. They were slowly turning their heads to look at each other as if to say:

Should I be freaking out right now? If you are freaking out, I’ll freak out.

The flight soon after settled and once the attendants lined the aisle with over-priced booze, everyone seemed to go back to normal. The next day I was telling this tale to a friend back in Philly and I laughed to myself midway through as the parallels clicked: The start up scene is that airplane, the passengers entrepreneurs and the turbulence the investment capital. Everyone looking around at each other but not speaking up. Imagine the same mental monologue from an early stage entrepreneur:

“Is it me or is my start up pointless? I mean, if you don’t think yours is pointless, mine must not be pointless because if you thought yours was pointless, you would be freaking out about that 300K of investors money you are burning every month and you are not so I shouldn’t be worried that I have no customers or even a proof of concept, let alone revenue.

Anyway, Are you guys going to the Tumblr party at SXSW? I heard Jon Hamm is going to be there.”

For the record, anybody willing to put their neck on the line to build something instead of running their mouth about what they are going to do is good in my book, but is it possible
that start-up bubbles might just be caused by vanity as much as they are by an abundance of available capital?

Are revenue models not cool?

Maybe I am being naive but I just think if most entrepreneurs would put aside the idea of being crowned the Internet King on the Month and just focus on transforming pre-internet business models into post internet. ventures, everyone down the line would be better served.

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Hi, I'm Paul Hontz.

I'm a YC alumn and I love startups. I created TSF to highlight companies I find interesting. You can learn more about me here.

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