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The Startup J-Curve

The Start-Up J Curve: The Six Steps to Entrepreneurial Success
Howard Love

reality. There are over 2.5 million new businesses started in the US each year. If you have a crazy idea that you are passionate about, first read this book, and if you are still fired up, I suggest considering Richard Branson’s slogan: “Screw it, let’s do it!”

Iterations count more than the original idea, feedback counts more than the sales numbers, and flexibility and agility are more important than commitment to the original idea.

In this phase, you’ll focus on nailing the business model. Your goal is to reach the point where if you put more investment money into the business, more cash will be generated. You need to get to the point where it’s obvious that this company will generate cash flow at some certain point. You do this by knowing and driving down all your costs—customer acquisition, engineering, and so on—and at the same time maximizing your revenue.

In many cofounding situations, one partner will handle the customer-facing tasks, such as sales, marketing, business development, PR, and fund-raising, while the other founder takes on technology responsibilities associated with development of the product or service.

sine qua non

wisdom. For instance, you may be in a better position to take risks than an older entrepreneur with more financial responsibilities. If you’re single, don’t have children, and have relatively few significant debts, then you’re more likely to tolerate the pressure that comes in the J Curve’s dark days.

As Paul Graham wrote in an essay published on his site ( titled “Relentlessly Resourceful,” he explains that this is the critical quality for a start-up founder (versus being hapless). Based on my own experience, I concur with Graham. The world is divided into those who impose their will on the world versus those who too easily accept what the world imposes on them.