Roland Dürre
Wednesday August 27th, 2014

Start-up (5) – Coincidence as a Founder

As a third type of foundations, after the “pragmatic” and “mass-produced” ones, you could name the “founding through coincidence” or at least “with the assistance of some coincidence”. Just like, if you have a detective story, the culprit is often found by “superintendent coincidence”, the founding of a company is also often fathered by a coincidence, or at least it determines success or failure.

For instance a chemist discovers a new paste with particularly much power and develops a very special glue based on it. An innkeeper fills one of his barrels with something that should go elsewhere and you get a new drink. A computer scientist creates a new app in order to make his own life easier. He shows it to his pals and they say: “Wow, we also want this”. Another computer scientist develops some software to better communicate with his friends about girls. …

What would have become of Microsoft if IBM had not been sent by coincidence?
🙂 small and soft?

What would have become of google? The founders had written a “crawler” in order to download interesting internet pages overnight and store them, because at the time, “www” was short for “wait, wait, wait“. However, nobody was interested in this new function, because, after all, “surfing” is a dynamic process. 
Consequently, the two guys thought about what they could do with their “crawler”. And then they used it to build a fantastic search engine which, thanks to its simple “page rank”, can even weigh and structure the pages. 
People (including Wolf and me) liked this – except that the Google founders did not earn any money with it, either. Which is why we all asked how long the nice google will live.

And then the google people came up with the idea to offer “adverts” on their search engine. As far as I know, the two founders had never intended to do that. But in times of crisis, the “ultima ratio” sometimes forces you to actually try something you were not going to try. And then the turnover through marketing adverts grew in dinensions they had never dreamed of and lo and behold: they became a real success.

What would have happened if I had never met Wolf Geldmacher? Would I have started early retirement as a frustrated Siemens employee five years ago?

As I see it, a successful founding always has three sources:

  • The pragmatic behaviour with the clear business goal.
  • Once in a while special measures in order to promote business.
  • And coincidence, which, when all is said and done, will decide whether you are a success, both on a small and huge scale.

And coincidence, which, when all is said and done, will decide whether you are a success, both on a small and huge scale.

🙂 Consequently, every founder also needs a little luck. And you can certainly enter endless dispute about whether fortune really favours the brave.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

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