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It's merely a difference of approach. Balsamiq seems to be a very nice business...but it's not a startup according to pg's definition. The goal does not seem to be "get acquired or have an IPO". Building a lifestyle business as a solo founder is entirely feasible...if a little exhausting after a while (I ran a solo founder business for seven years before starting my current business).



I guess, to me, maybe that's a part of the issue. I define a third route for a startup. Make money. So I have trouble with that lesser definition. I'd have called 37 Signals a startup (still might, when does being a startup end--I don't know how to draw the line).

I worked at a software company which has 5 buildings it owns outright, employs thousands of people, and has 300 million+ in annual revenue. In the 70's it was started by one person. I'd have called it a "startup" at the time. It is still private.

The difference perhaps revolves around "startup appropriate for Y Combinator" vs "startup."


The difference perhaps revolves around "startup appropriate for Y Combinator" vs "startup."

Actually, it would be "startup appropriate for any investor". If there is no exit planned, then it's not something an investor wants to be involved in.

It's purely semantics, which is why I specifically said, "according to pg's definition". Your definition may be different...but if you're talking about pg's rules of thumb for "startups", you have to accept his definition of "startup" for the purpose of context.


It's a good point, and those may be his definitions, but I don't see the rules mentioned in the essay in particular.

There are all sorts of investment that don't fit the Silicon Valley VC short-term mold, so appropriate for "any investor" might be over-stating things, even for startups. Investing in cash-cow businesses is not a bad strategy--I wish I could have invested in the private company I mentioned above in the 70's. Jeff Bezos thought 37 signals was interesting enough to invest in. Warren Buffett seems to like cash cow businesses as well.


Successful entrepreneurs are the ones who break the rules.


> If there is no exit planned, then it's not something an investor wants to be involved in.

Buy and hold anyone?


Earlier discussion about startup (DHH) vs startup (pg):

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=173000




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