Of Cockroach Founders And Why It All Matters

Lately, there has been a lot of discussion going around cockroach founders and well..healthy businesses (quite an irony!).

The discussion was largely prompted by BusinessInsider article

“Everything is about resiliency now to weather the storm,” says Tim McSweeney, a director at technology-focused merchant bank Restoration Partners. “Unicorn, it’s a mythical beast, whereas a cockroach, it can survive a nuclear war.”

Ofcourse, investors’ version is very different. They really don’t care which breed you are as long as you can fake yourself to be a unicorn clown.

Hell! We just invest in great teams and don’t care much whether you are a cockroach or a rhino.

Sure baby! Investors are always looking to invest in great teams (read : hyped up degrees) and world changing ideas (read : food app).

Meet The Cockroach Founders

Cockroaches are about survival. About being tough.

They are tough, and hard to kill. A cockroach can live for two weeks without a head [source]

Same with founders who have learnt how to survive.

These founders may not be growing exponentially – but they are growing at a steady rate; and importantly, at their terms and conditions.

Globally, the startup ecosystem is mostly about valuation and funding – the entire notion of value creation and problem solving has taken a back seat (thanks to investors investing in ‘great teams’).

In fact, the entire notion is that if you aren’t growing, you are shrinking!

Sure! That’s another way to look at – but let’s not deny the importance of cockroach founders who aren’t in public eyes, aren’t considered too sexy (heck! cockroaches are ugly!) by investors and the startup ecosystem. But are growing/surviving and thriving (okay, some do!).

These cockroach founders have learnt to survive hardships.

I Am A Cockroach Founder

Because I will survive. I have survived. And I will thrive. At my terms and conditions.

Cockroaching is not about bootstrapping – but about surviving hard conditions. Surviving times when chips are down and the world is waiting to write you off!

The only thing about cockroach that you need to know (as a founder)

Cockroaches are among the hardiest insects. Some species are capable of remaining active for a month without food and are able to survive on limited resources, such as the glue from the back of postage stamps.Some can go without air for 45 minutes.

Experiments on decapitated specimens of several species of cockroach found a variety of behavioral functionality remained, including shock avoidance and escape behavior, although many insects other than cockroaches are also able to survive decapitation, and popular claims of the longevity of headless cockroaches do not appear to be based on published research. The severed head is able to survive and wave its antennae for several hours, or longer when refrigerated and given nutrients. [wikipedia]

Survival is, in my opinion, the most under appreciated trait of great founders.

At times, survival is about sticking your neck out and at times, it’s about waiting for the right time to play your cards.

Whatever it is, the world doesn’t care much about Cockroach founders – they aren’t sexy, but all I want to tell you is that the world/ecosystem is a much saner place, thanks to these founders who are focusing on building something valuable and cockroachable!

And One More Thing

I am bringing in several such *cockroach* founders at the upcoming edition of UnPluggd – you will be amazed to see what’s happening in Indian startup ecosystem (now that the funding and #prshit stories are over). Be There!

What’s your take?

Use our exclusive weekend coupon code COCKROACH to book UnPluggd tickets at 25% off (Expires on 21st April)

PS : The Businessinsider article is quite wrong that investors are willing to back cockroach founders. In my opinion, investors really don’t get cockroach founders because they are way too busy looking for Unicorn ones.

PPS : From what I recall, the reference to cockroach was first made by Caterina Fake (Flickr cofounder) few years back.

And while we are at it, do watch this romantic comedy movie on..cockroach!

Image credit: shutterstock

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