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The Startup Hustler (elasticsales.com)
37 points by alagu on June 29, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 25 comments

The need for a "startup hustler" is a myth. Of all the startups I know of out here in SF and SV, I can't think of any good ones that have needed this kind of person around.

The part about impatience is especially dangerous. Being impatient with your business is a good way to produce something of low quality because you just didn't take the time to get it right.

I disagree. Having someone to go out and make deals OR report back that the market isn't there, to pitch to investors, or to form partnerships with other companies is invaluable. Many of the great companies I respect the most here in SF and SV succeeded in part because they had someone that filled this role (be they a founder or otherwise.)

It's less about the "startup hustler", and more about people who are extremely resourceful. "Hustler" is an easy and convenient title for people who are not checking in code, but are still out making deals and building partnerships.

All businesses are simultaneously vulnerable to both launching too quickly and waiting too long. Waiting too long is similarly a good way to produce something that's either irrelevant or sucks because it hasn't been subjected to rounds of iterative improvements based on customer feedback.

An impatient founder who is 100% focused on their opinion of the best way forward, and frenetically works on that while involving the team can be a tremendous boost to company-wide productivity.

I would say it's the opposite. Except for deep tech companies, hustling is the most important attribute a startup can have these days. And it's not just sales. It's everything. Having people that make stuff happen is extremely valuable.

It depends on the type of startup, doesn't it? You may need someone to knock down doors and get sales or deals done. Take for example Hipmunk. Their beautiful UX counts for nothing if they don't have flight data. And to get that data, they need partnerships and agreements with providers who probably see their idea as a threat.

It's not a myth, it's maybe even one of the reasons why startups are failing. If building would solve all your business problems, we wouldn't have the famous 9 out of 10 startups fail statistic in the tech world.

I do not know the back-story but I think of Groupon as being a startup composed of "hustlers." They created a tremendously successful yet obviously fragile niche in online retail. I think they knew from the beginning it was not sustainable because they drew a huge amount of investment and simply kept the money as I understand.

Well, Microsoft sold an interpreter they had not written yet...

But yeah, I'm having a hard time coming up with many famous entrepreneurs who seem like a good fit for the hustler stereotype. My guess is that you need a certain amount of hustle to be in the game at all, but you don't need the high level implied by the term "hustler".

Richard Branson, Felix Dennis, 50 Cent, Neil Patel

Mark Cuban.

Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates

True that you don't have to hire a "hustler" in specific, but a hustler needs to emerge in a startup. It definitely moves things forward, especially in B2B.

Why are we, as a community, having these "epiphanies" about how to start and run a successful business? The functions and skill-set may have changed, but the core principles that drive an entrepreneurial undertaking have not. For over a hundred years.

Sometimes it seems like we believe that we are paving new ground, when all it is is that we never bother to learn from those who have traveled this road before.

A "hustler", as the article defines, should be the function of everyone in a startup, even us "hackers" (if we can come down from the pedestal).

I really don’t like the word ‘hustler’.


And the word ‘hacker’ is nothing like the word ‘hustler’: it doesn’t involve any sex trade connotations, and has a well-established meaning related to productivity and creative pursuits.

As a side-note: if we actually want to address the gender imbalance in the tech industry, it’s a bad idea to appropriate words that mean ‘pimp’ and give them positive connotations.

Really? The primary definition on the page you linked is "One who hustles: especially somebody who pretends to be an amateur at a game in order to win bets."

The secondary and tertiary definitions are pimp and prostitute.

I have never associated the word "hustler" with a pimp and never even heard it used in that connotation, and I doubt most people have.

I'm with you on the gender imbalance and being sensitive to all persons, but let's not go looking for things that aren't there.

I am curious of their business model. Do you pay hourly for the "hustlers" or do you only have to pay when they bring on customers. I think for this to work, Elastic Sales would have to vet their customers to make sure that they had real business models with sellable products.

I must admit to being a little disappointed to not see this article get as much traction as I expected on HN. I enjoyed the hell out of it, and I would love for HN to talk about this side of business and startups much more.

The problem with hustlers is when they leave out the "values" part. Endemic to the hustler personality is bending the rules, and often discarding them altogether.

Would you have the same concerns about 'hackers'?

I'd love for HN to redefine 'hustler' without the negative connotations much the same as we have redefined 'hacker'.

I agree with all this, but isn't there a better word than hustler?

(Which normally has quite negative fraudulent connotations that we're not tapping into here.)

I honestly think "coming up" in drug-dealing or as a rap-star are analogous to running a successful startup. In both professions the system is trying to quell/control your rise to success and it takes an extraordinary amount of willpower/talent/luck to overcome it.

Be that as it may, I don't want to succeed and have my friends and family think of me as a hustler - an $80k job as a programmer beats that. Being CEO is, and ought to be, far more respectable. We should be happy that it's as "easy" as it is for the guy who only has $500 to his name and invests it in drugs to sell, gets customers and builds his capital until he's balling. I have some "respect" for that business. We're lucky ours doesn't depend on being illegal, or even ripping anyone off - we should try to hold on to that respect and build it. If nothing else, so that other people will consider this path more seriously, and so we can be taken more seriously as compared with other business people who didn't build up from scratch.

If you ask the general public, hacker is a negative word, too.

And connotes a level of gigolo-sity not here appropriate.

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