The Startup Weight Watchers Connection #startups #programmes

The X-Factor rated back story….

Two years ago I wrote a post called “Startups: The Passion and the Paradox“, it was written at a time I was facing, what felt like, an out of my hands decision*. On the one hand it would help me on the other it could paralyse me from the neck down. Things like that focus your mind, sat at keyboard I wrote the words to startups thinking those were possibly going to be the last. And it’s amazing at times like that how clear and precise your thoughts can be.


On the plus side I had Bayes theorem and 100% trust in the man doing the surgery. To some people’s dismay I’m sure, the operation was a success (“oh man he’ll never shut up now!”). So the idea this morning was to revisit that post, then I changed my mind. I don’t where the thought came from but it was staring me in the face. Startups are like attendees of Weight Watchers….

Weight Watchers: The Perfect Repeat Business

The Weight Watchers business plan from 2001 says to shareholders, “demonstrated a consistent pattern of repeat enrollment over a number of years,” – Basically those who enrolled on it lost weight in the short term but then ended up rejoining as they put the weight on again. Weight Watchers growth is based on repeat business and they full well know it. In fact I would wager most of the other diet programmes have exactly the same model. Losing weight it hard.


Startup Accelerators and Programmes to help you “realise your startup potential” and “get you to investor readiness” are essentially doing the same thing. Enable you to a point of growth and then watch the majority get not growth and go back to the beginning.

We’re All Looking For the New Startup Diet

I’ve done, you’ve done it and I’d say even those who claim have not to have, have. “The new money is in…..”, that my friend is your new startup diet. It changes monthly, weekly even. It’s apps, it’s iOS watch apps, it’s machine learning, it’s big data, it’s chatbots (but run by humans)….. the list goes on, the startup diet mutates into a new thing with predictable fanfares in the tech press.

So for three months we go investing our energy in to this new diet thinking it’ll do wonders. It doesn’t. Yup got this product that’s going nowhere, so back to the drawing board. I wonder what diet everyone is doing now?

And so the cycle continues.

And All The While….

While all of this is going on, your local accelerator/mentor (for what a lot of them are worth)/government backed investment programme, well they turn a blind eye to all of this knowing one thing. You’ll be back. And while you are coming back the money can be claimed to cover their costs and pay the salaries while the startups struggle. The lure of £20k is big when the bank account is empty and non of the founding team have eaten properly for a few months.

It’s the Weight Watchers model. Startups are the desperate dieters wanting to make it big in the world of business, the real winners are the ones telling them they can do it.

The conclusion to me is that if you want to lose weight then do a startup, then another and then another.

The ones I think that make it are the ones who look at the mass exodus and then go in the opposite direction with the market data under arm. Going against any diet that is in vogue at the moment, growth is on their terms and not that of an advisor. Watching the market like a hawk and adjusting accordingly. Thing is, especially where I live, these folk are rare. It’s easier to follow the crowd and take the short term benefits without thinking about the long term implications.

* I could have stopped the process of having the operation at any time, and near very nearly did. Once the shock had worn off then I was actually all on for sorting this out. If you’ve ever watched the keynote I did at Beltech 2014 I can’t tell you the agony I was in while walking around on stage.

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