My colleague and entrepreneur David Portabella just mentioned to me Conway’s views on his investments. Conway is a famous business angel who invested in AskJeeves, Google and Paypal.
In a nutshell:
– In the 1997-2001 period, 77% of his investments failed. Since 2002, it’s down to 40%.
– Entrepreneurs have a 66 percent chance of being successful on a startup if it’s their second one.
– There is a misconception that “every 10 years we get a Google.” “That’s not true,” he claims it is at a much faster rate.
If I agree that failure is common and success is not so rare, I am less sure about serial entrepreneurs being better. I have hard data from Stanford entrepreneurs and serial entrepreneurs are not any better. I will share these data in the future…
I haven’t seen the original – but the quote here is that entrepreneurs have a 66% chance of being successful on a startup if it’s their second one (presumably this is higher than for a first startup). I would agree that a second attempt has a greater change to be successful – I learnt a lot during my first company and now have a completely new approach. However I feel the law of diminishing returns will apply – my opinion is that the entrepreneur picks up more learning going from one to two than two to three and so on – so after two tries the quality of the entrepreneur can probably be judged, and it is unlikely to improve after a string of further attempts.
If 40% of entrepreneurs fail, at best 60% succeed whereas 66% would succeed with their second one. My data (on about 2’700 startups including around 900 having a serial founder) shows that serial founders do not seem to do much better than one-time entrepreneurs with their new ventures and more suprisingly would have a tendency to do a little worse if I compare the new to the one. But I still need to do more stats before publishing anything. My experience is that succesful entrepreneurs may be less hingy with their new venture and less succesful ones may face additional stress. In any case, is there a big difference between 60% and 66%. I am used to read about the importance of serial entrepreneurs and the debate is probably still opened… Indeed you may have a look at initial results in my talk at Babson published here on https://www.startup-book.com/2010/06/18/high-growth-and-profits (slide 26 of the pdf)