2 main differences between modern founders and their predecessors

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The startup landscape has undergone profound transformations in recent decades. With the rapid advancement of technology and practices in the field, the role of an aspiring tech startup founder has also evolved, as have most stakeholders’ expectations towards them.

This means that comparing your own startup journey to the path of the best-known tech giants can be enlightening, as many of the lessons are evergreen, but also very misleading if you take context-specific examples and base your expectations on them.

In this article, we’ll explore two key differences that separate modern founders from fledgling tech startups.

Contents

1. Access to Information and Resources

One of the main differences lies in the access to information and resources available to modern early-stage startup founders.

A few decades ago, knowledge about startups, entrepreneurship and technology was relatively scarce. It is crucial to keep in mind that startups are quite different from traditional entrepreneurial projects (much more innovative and highly scalable), and these differences lead to different best practices. Due to the rarity of real startup projects a few decades ago, it was extremely difficult to find real guidance. This is also the main reason why the vast majority of successful startups emerged from one cluster: Silicon Valley. This was simply the only place in the world where knowledge about such projects was generated and concentrated.

Today, this knowledge is much more widely accessible – you can read asStep-by-step guide on how to take a tech startup project from ideation to exitand you can find people all over the world who specialize in such projects.

Online platforms, startup communities, and knowledge-sharing networks provide founders with a vast amount of resources, mentorship, and case studies to learn from. This accessibility accelerates the learning curve and gives modern founders a broader understanding of the startup ecosystem.

At the same time, wider access to knowledge and resources naturally leads to more competition, which means you have to find other competitive advantages – having knowledge of how to run a startup is rarely enough.

2. A shift in startup culture and mindset

The startup culture and mindset has undergone a significant shift over the past two decades. Previously, the focus was on building businesses that could attract traditional financing, with the goal of becoming profitable as quickly as possible.

Today’s early-stage founders are more likely to embrace the lean startup methodology, focusing on validating ideas, collecting feedback, and quickly iterating. They adopt a growth mindset and value rapid experimentation, agility and adaptability.

This change in approach is fueled by a more accepting startup ecosystem that recognizes the value of failure as a stepping stone to success. Modern founders are encouraged to take risks, learn from their mistakes and make adjustments where necessary.

Most early-stage investors realize that having a profitable company is much less valuable than having a high-growth company, as many highly scalable solutions race to take over and dominate new market niches. The valuation of the first company to address a specific problem is often an order of magnitude higher than that of the second company to come along.

Last but not least, the role of tech startup founders has also changed significantly in the general society. Due to the huge success of the tech giants, it is now prestigious to be an entrepreneur, even if you are not successful – people realize that taking risks is necessary, which makes it much easier to find social support and understanding for your project. Failure is much less of a social stigma, making starting a risky venture much less socially costly.