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Two days ago I’ve read something that sounded really familiar: startups don’t work with other startups. I am sorry, I can’t find the article right know, but this is something I’ve been thinking in the last 18 months, since we started MavenHut. Maybe a little more nuanced: early startups don’t work with early startups.
One of the most difficult things to do when in a startup is to convince your potential partners to work with you: startups, by their nature, are a fiddly beast. Most of them don’t survive the first several month, let alone the first year, so everybody starts with the assumption that a startup will not deliver.
To makes matters worse, a startup has even less incentive to work with another one. And the reasoning is simple: the startup you build is already on the edge of survival (as any startup is). You don’t really want to base your own existence on somebody else’s capacity of making it to the shore. And startups make mistakes, and first versions of the products are rarely the ones the customer needs. And I have limited resources (money and work hours), I don’t want to lose anything because of your testing/mistakes. I lose enough on mine.
Yes, working with a startup may be cheaper, even free. But I would rather pay more for something or make it without the specific thing that startup offers, than to base my livelihood on somebody else’s promises.
I am keeping in touch with startups we talk to for partnerships, though. We can still help each other and thrive together, but working together? Later down the road, once we’ve both crossed 2 years of building the same product. By that time you should already have a version stable enough for us to use.
Does this make life more difficult for startup founders? Hell, yes! But it’s the way it is.
P.S.: actually, I remembered that when we started, Cristi, my co-founder, kept saying: “While I am a startup, I am not going to be the first customer of another startup. Too much uncertainty involved.”