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Building a Company With The Wind At Your Back
It’s immensely easier to get a company going successfully when the wind is at your back. I’ve heard a number of different investors say something akin to this, and I totally agree.
Some quick disparate thoughts:
1. Building a company with the wind at your back does NOT mean you aren’t being contrarian. Contrarians can see positive tailwinds when others miss them, or think that markets will shift differently from conventional wisdom. This is something that I’ve actually had a hard time understanding, because I am by nature one who tries to think differently.
2. Building a company with the wind at your back does NOT mean pouncing on emerging trends. I sometimes see founders highlight now their company is in lock-step of big trends, and then point to successful companies that are leading those trends as evidence. That does not make me think that the wind is at your back. Actually, it makes me think that the wind is in your face. If someone else is doing something similar, it probably means that there are dozens of others doing the same thing too, which creates a bunch of different headwinds.
3. Building a company with the wind at your back DOES mean that you spot the underlying shifts/behavior changes/opportunities that will drive future trends. For example, the “1099 economy” isn’t a thing as much as it’s driven by the trends that fuel it. That’s also why I think there is a big difference between having a “thesis” vs. having “themes”. Theses are forward looking, and themes are more about stitching together what one observes about the present.
4. What does “wind at your back” look like? It could be a bunch of stuff. High level things include:
- Emerging new engines for user acquisition
- Demographic shifts
- Underlying shifts in user behavior
- New technologies that make the previously impossible possible
- Regulatory changes