Be Disruptive, Be Authentic, and Never Play by the Rules — Successful Startups

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Three guys who could not afford rent in San Francisco, a few used air mattresses, and a dream.

This is the origin story of one of the biggest companies in the world at a valuation of over $10 billion dollars. Airbnb completely disrupted the market with and has changed the culture to the point where the name itself describes the activity.

“Let’s Airbnb it”, or “Let’s get an Airbnb” are two phrases that have essentially entered the lexicon as replacements for what used to be, “Let’s rent a room”. Even booking a getaway at a bed and breakfast may now only be possible in some places solely through the Airbnb platform.

Airbnb is clearly not the only startup to have emerged victorious over the past several years; there is also Instagram, Pinterest, Uber, WhatsApp, Lyft, AdRoll, ThousandEyes, and several other mega corporations that started with more humble beginnings. The one thing that they all seem to have in common? Instead of playing along with everyone else in a red ocean of competition, they changed the game. These innovative and agile startups saw the gaps in the market and approached how they were going to fulfill those needs from a radically different perspective. But this is no easy task, and 90% of startups will often fall short of launching their big dreams for a myriad of reasons which are hard to pinpoint. There is no ‘one size fits all’ method, unfortunately, as any combination of factors makes the difference between a $10 billion dollar valuation and a permanent ‘closed’ sign on the front door.

However, research from Fractl conducted with 12 failed startups shed insight into some of the common reasons startups fail:

Lack of Funding

24% of startups surveyed stated this as a reason why they failed.

This one seems rather obvious, but there really is no correlation between how much money you acquire and your level of success. Companies that earned tens of millions of dollars were still capable of crashing and burning. Scalability does not fix the inherent flaws that can come from a bad business model or team.

Bad Timing

7% of startups surveyed stated this as a reason why they failed.

Timing is everything. If there is no demand, then there is no point in creating supply. Following market trends may help, but sometimes even the most unexpected circumstances will lead to demand for something skyrocketing. (e.g, a pandemic).

Wrong Team

13% of startups listed this was a reason why they failed.

If you do not have the right people pushing to make your product or service the absolute best, or there is a misalignment in goals, it can cause many major setbacks. Even if everything else is perfect, if you do not have a team capable of executing what has to be done, then it is all for naught.

Bad Business Model

A whopping 26% of startups stated this was the main reason why they failed.

This is probably the most important aspect of startups to keep in mind. If there is no plan, no documentation that can prove an idea is viable or scaleable, you are basically dead in the water before you even started.

This is just the basic overview of the pitfalls startups can encounter, but to really find great solutions and strategies to better ensure your business is on the right path, then you need to listen to the experts who have successfully navigated this long, winding road, and continue to do so till this day.

Take Canadian startup NeuroFit VR, a revolutionary company that allows physiotherapists, mental health professionals and other specialists to treat their patients through the use of “Virtual Reality”. Neurofit connects specialists from around the country to people who do not have immediate access to care. Founder and CEO, Alex Theodorou, is a researcher turned entrepreneur who saw first-hand that there was a lack of adequate resources to meet the healthcare needs of patients, and the move towards telehealth by the Canadian government proved that this need was only going to increase. His previous experience in neurolinguistics research and as a caregiver meant he could tackle this issue from a variety of perspectives unique from that of big businesses or established corporations. He took the experiences he had, and decided to capitalize on them, just as three men with a few mattresses did to create a completely one-of-a-kind service.

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Theodorou discussing the origin story of his company on one of DotsLive’s “Startup Talk” sessions. Watch the replay here.

Theodorou has shared his work across North America serving as a guest lecturer, keynote speaker, and TEDx presenter to an online audience of over 26 million viewers. Neurofit VR has been used in over 1500+ completed sessions despite only launching in 2019, and the product is even more in demand now that COVID-19 has made in-house healthcare visits nearly impossible. The timing for the launch of his startup could not have worked out better, and Theodorou is clearly taking advantage of this aligning of the stars.

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Theodorou giving a Tedx Talk in Newmarket, Ontario on tech being the future of mental health

In his upcoming entrepreneurship panel with goLead McGill hosted exclusively on DotsLive, Theodorou is going to provide an in-depth look into the strategies he uses, what he’s learned from this entire process, and share his roadmap for success so that others may avoid the mistakes he’s made along the way and perhaps take a few notes out of his playbook.

Along with Shiva Bhardwaj, Founder and CEO of Pitstop! a company that uses analytics to predict vehicle-related issues before they happen, and Sarah Applebaum, startup mentor, and partner at Pangaea Ventures, this panel really is a great way to have all those burning questions answered. You can RSVP to this amazing free panel happening on October 28th, 2020. 6:00 PM — 7:30 PM EST Right here.

It is unique, disruptive, innovative, and highly specialized ideas like that of Neurofit VR and Pitstop! that end up making a splash in a pool of hundreds if not thousands of startups. Theodorou just happened to have the perfect combination of skills, timing, and market interest to make his product able to compete in an industry that was otherwise stagnant. Whether it is three guys and a few mattresses, or a caregiver with a mind for research, sometimes the biggest potential comes from the smallest of companies, and that truly is the power of startups.

Sign up to DotsLive today to discover more startup strategies from experts around the world!

Link to references used in this article:,of%20cash%20for%20their%20shutdown.

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