Startup failure

The startup eco-system is gaining huge momentum.  Worldwide.  Hong Kong.  As much excitement as this has generated, it is hard to escape from the cold hard reality that many startups fail.  Especially in this part of the world where conservatism (or even pessimism) rules, there is never a lack of coverage on this topic from the media as well as speakers from various conferences and seminars.

Yes, indeed many startups fail.  In fact, the ‘life expectancy’ for any company (regardless of startups, SMEs, large corporates) has been dropping rather dramatically in recent times.  There are many reasons for this, the huge technology impact, the changing of people’s mindsets, etc., and it’s fair to say that the business/financial world has become much more competitive, or even brutal, compared to a couple of decades ago.

But let’s stay away from the business world for a moment.

Isn’t this true for pretty much all facets of life?

There are always going to be a bigger percentage of students who don’t get into universities

There are always going to be a bigger percentage of graduates who don’t get into top companies

There are always going to be a bigger percentage of office workers who don’t get into top management

There are always going to be a bigger percentage of people who don’t stay in shape

Does this mean there is no meaning in trying to do any of these things?


First of all, when people work on/in a startup, or do anything that they believe is worthwhile to do, they will learn something from it regardless of the end result.  And when people learn and improve, they end up being a better person.

Also, when we talk about startup failures (more accurately, closing of a startup company), it really doesn’t mean the founders have to go through bankruptcy or anything as dramatic as that.  May be the product or service is doing well but it just doesn’t scale to a level that is in line with the founders’ vision.  Or may be they have developed another ambition that is more worthwhile.  Or may be they just love working on really early stage startups.  And it really shouldn’t impact on what the next path the founders pick – it can be another startup, it can be joining another startup, it can be going to work in a larger company.  All the experiences that the founders have learnt are relevant to pretty much any job that they would want to do next.

So what has failed?

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