Home How Startups Are Like Rock Bands

How Startups Are Like Rock Bands

Startup culture is continually growing in the greater public interest, and with that growth comes a sort of celebrity for the founders of the more popular companies. Mark Zuckerberg and Evan Williams are now household names, and in many ways, these entrepreneurs are like rock stars in the startup world. In fact, the journey of an entrepreneur through the startup experience is a lot like that of a musician seeking stardom and millions of adoring fans, and artist Shane Snow has a perfect infographic to illustrate this.

Snow, a graphic designer, freelance writer, entrepreneur and would-be musician based in New York City, saw his youthful aspirations of topping the rock and roll charts crumble as he and his bandmates went their separate ways after college. During that time he has been writing about technology, running a few startup sites, and designing websites and infographics. One such infographic was inspired by his dual experiences as a musician and an entrepreneur and shows that the path to success for both is marked by similar milestones.

For starters, rock bands assemble members of complementary abilities, create a rough-cut demo tape, network with similar bands and begin touring small venues. The same is true for startups, which gather a team of varying skills, produce their first prototype, and begin networking with other startups and investors. Rock bands “bootstrap” by selling merchandise at shows, and startups find themselves signed to an indie record label – also known as angel financing.

As the musicians travel thousands of miles playing gig after gig, the entrepreneurs code thousands of lines of code creating iteration after iteration. One day, as Snow’s infographic illustrates, startups could hit the big time with a major record label signing in the form of a venture capital firm investment. Finally, after the eventual superstars live up their popularity to it’s fullest, they retire and either become investors of their own, or crete their own record label to keep the money rolling in.

“Starting a rock band is a very entrepreneurial experience.”
– Shane Snow

One comparison I would have included in the infographic is fact that startups and rock bands alike must stay abreast of their audience’s needs. Instead of churning out the same music over and over, bands evolve to keep their listeners interested and coming back for more. Just think of how different The Beatles were from their first to last album, and think of how different Facebook is from its early days.

“Starting a rock band is a very entrepreneurial experience,” says Snow. “I think being an entrepreneur is all about executing creative ideas — being the guy (or girl) who actually starts a band rather than sitting around with friends and talking about how cool it would be, or being the one who actually sits down and builds a prototype rather than just talking about it for years until someone else builds it.”

And just as there are no over-night successes in music, the same is also true for startups. They take enormous amounts of effort spread over a long period of time, so don’t get frustrated when your first singles aren’t instant hits.

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