What are some forgotten facts about start-ups

Adam Gelencser
3 min readDec 8, 2020

1. It is NOT the company’s responsibility to keep an employee marketable.
I believe that the employee-employment connection is a reciprocal relationship. The employee brings applied marketable knowledge to the party, while the company provides good job opportunities, a good work environment and a good salary in return. In order for marketable knowledge to remain the same, we must constantly learn and train ourselves. A company can help with this, provide courses, support it in many ways. But ultimately, the responsibility for continuous learning should lie with the employee. If you don’t train yourself, don’t learn new things then you won’t be able to bring your own half to the above bargain.

2. Don’t be a unicorn but BE A COCKROACH if you can.
Companies that can show billions of dollars in goodwill (investment) in a few years are called unicorns. Especially US-based start-ups are in a lucky position. If the concept is sexy enough, the team is well-known and they are pros in pitching, they can raise a lot of money. Even if they have no revenue or a specific plan for revenue. They get the money, just based on how many people will use the product, according to them. With that usual scale of money, you can play big, like really big, which can be either a big failure or a big success. Needless to say, even in the US, despite the amount of money, it has almost always been a big failure. According to this Forbes article, 90% of them failed within 5 years.

It is more difficult in other parts of the world as that massive goodwill money, is just not as generous and harder to get. Therefore, another model works much better, which is the cockroach model. These are the companies that make money from early on, grow from it, and depend much less on the next round of investment. There are many more cockroaches than unicorns, which shows that the chance of survival is much higher than a cockroach. Also, don’t forget, cockroaches survive even a nuclear war!

3. As a leader, surround yourself with people who see the world differently enough and are WILLING TO ARGUE WITH YOU.
In retrospect, peers or colleagues who thought differently than I did, played a key role in any major success. Being a stubborn and competitive person, important decisions have always been made in fierce debates. Even if they weren’t right, they were thought-provoking, inspiring in new ways. And the fact is that on most issues you don’t have to make good decisions for the first time, it’s enough that you learn quickly from what doesn’t work.

4. As with babies, a start-up must first WALK BEFORE they can RUN.
We often talk about the fact that more than 90% of start-ups cease to exist within five years. One of the main reasons for this is that very often there are founders who have never run a company, designed a product or sold anything. All of this is not infrequently aimed at a market in which none of them have experience. The classic definition of a start-up is something like this:

A low-capital, exponentially growing and quickly scalable company.

But perhaps it would be more responsible to define them as:

A startup is a functioning company that can generate revenue from its product or service, that it can efficiently and uniformly further develop based on customer expectations and is able to achieve exponentially growing sales results.

5. Start-up leaders DO NOT HAVE A WORK-LIFE BALANCE. If you want to be successful, push it as hard as you can.
I just don’t believe you can win an Olympics gold medal without the exceptionally hard work which lasts for years beforehand. In the same vein, nor do I believe that a successful company can be built in six or eight hours a day.



Adam Gelencser

Tech enthusiast, currently entrepreneuring — regularly sharing content on tech news and irregularly on other topics. Founder of QMapper.co video AI tool.