Introducing the manifesto for Startupfest 2020- year ten.
Venture capitalists expect an order of magnitude return on their investment. They spread their money widely, knowing that only a few of their investments will yield returns—but that those rare unicorns will return enough to make their fund profitable.
But for founders, every order of magnitude brings change.
If you have one customer, you’re essentially an employee. Have ten? You’re a small business, or a consultant. When you get a hundred customers, you may be onto something. At a thousand, you’re running user conferences. And beyond that, you need support, escrow, and all the complications that come with a healthy demand for your products or services.
Similarly, when you have one employee, you’re self-employed. You can manage ten by word of mouth and anecdote. At a hundred, you probably have an HR department. A thousand employees, and you’re constantly recruiting; you may never meet everyone.
And when you have a thousand dollars a month, it’s a side gig. At ten thousand, it’s a career. A hundred thousand and you’re a going concern. A million a month and you’re well beyond product-market fit.
There are dozens of other milestones startups face. Interminable prototypes. Innumerable meetings. Inevitable bugs. Endless pitches. But each accomplishment builds grit. Scar tissue turns to entrepreneurial muscle. The Hollywood vision of a startup that walks out of a garage with a perfect product is a fiction. As Sheryl Crow once said, it takes a decade to become an overnight success.
All of these milestones are proxies for growth—the discovery and execution of a sustainable, repeatable business. And all of them need a real shift in culture, processes, and technologies. Your founders change. Your priorities shift from hustle and discovery, to meetings and delivery.
10x changes everything.
At Startupfest, we’ve had our own 10x. From early beginnings as a community startup event of only a hundred eager founders, we’ve grown to thousands of VCs, startups, accelerators, and experts who come from around the world to connect, learn, share, and yes, hustle. And in this, our tenth year, we’re changing too.
Growth is oxygen. Early on, growth gives you room to learn and experiment—every new customer is a chance to try something different and find your groove. Later, growth funds the business, managing receivables and avoiding dilution. And on exit, growth is proof.
It’s taken us a decade to get where we are. By now, we’re known worldwide for our deep content, taught by industry insiders who’ve survived the pitfalls of 10x scaling. Startups return year after year for our unmatched networking. Some walk away with a windfall of investment, partners, and market validation. Today, we’ve got less to prove—and more to offer.
So in our tenth year, our focus is on the growth of every facet of startups, from team and product, to funding and sales, to scale and exit. With a decade under our belts, we’re growing and changing too, adding new formats, new tools for networking, new partners, and some surprising new business ideas. Like any good startup, we’re not revealing all of them yet. But this is a remarkable year—a 10x year—and we can’t wait to have you along for the ride.