How building startups are like planting trees

Starting startups and planting trees basically have the same steps. Here’s an analogy

1. Find the right soil and area –  this is basically market research without which there is no beginning.  Making sure the soil, the weather, the surroundings is crucial for plants to even begin. Same for startups. Find the right product/market/idea fit. Solve a real problem.

2. Buy the right seeds –  this is the formation of the idea. The idea has to be right, and fit the market, just like the right soil needs the right seeds. Also to buy the seeds you need money and possibly land. You either put in your own money or borrow from friends and family with a promise to repay in kind. This is angel investment. Angels can be friends and family/bootstrapped/angel investors.

3. Choose the right people to plant the tree with – planting and growing trees is a lifelong process.  And you need the right set of people to work with you, who share the same vision for what the tree should look like 20 years from now and will do anything to see it gets there. Also ideally you’ve planted other trees before with these people. This is how you should choose Co founders. The vision should be to grow an Orchard of trees. Ideally you’ll need someone who knows the science of planting trees (CTO) and someone who can ensure daily watering/healthcheck operations happen smoothly(COO). Your primary role(CEO) will be to oversee the other two and start talking to local markets about the benefits of buying your produce and signing up early customers. The purpose is after all to create customers.

4. Plant the seed – This is the start. Make sure everything is in order. Team is set, plans are set, laser focused on building, growth and execution.

5. Water the seed till it becomes a healthy plant – Early growth. This basically proves the land is fertile and the growing trees here is not disastrous. This also sends the right cues to investors and customers alike, who see that 20 years from now, you might be the best producer in the market, and want an early piece of it.

6. Find people who can buy you the right tools and fertilizers– expecting trees to grow on their own is hard especially considering all the factors that can go against it. Find Investors who can buy expensive fertilizers and help solve your problems with their vast experience of having grown trees before. These people are only here to help. Make sure of that, and that you don’t give up too much of your early produce or promise too much of your end product

7. Water everyday and grow the tree – Water the plants everyday, ensure good health, start selling produce, put money back into buying things that help in growth. Similarly for startups – execute, execute, execute, use early revenues to buy more tools , build more metrics and hire more people

8. Find people to help you plant more seeds – find coworkers who believe in your vision and work hard with you. Find people willing to invest in helping you to plant more trees. Scale your startup.

9. Build a business- now that you have the produce, the customers willing to buy your produce and the right hardworking team you have sustainable business. Grow the business. Start planting more trees and orchards, start planting trees in other suitable orchards, acquire orchards that have trees you’d like but cant plant them due to the time involved.

10. Sell the Orchard or continue to expand across regions, orchards – sell or go IPO

At every point be aware of bad weather conditions(co founder spats, bad hires), diseases(bad execution, bad advice) that can kill the plant and make sure to root them out early.

Very similar don’t you think. Comments?


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