Blog Post

How To Build A Bullet Proof Start-Up

New technologies are creating new business opportunities on the Internet, on mobile phones, in consumer products, and in information services. At the same time, many of these technologies have radically reduced the costs associated with launching a new venture. While birthing a company is easier, succeeding is as difficult as ever.

I teamed up with my long time colleague and comrade-in-arms Michael Copeland and talked to seasoned entrepreneurs, early-stage investors, venture capitalists, and first-time CEOs—to understand what they’ve learned about the art of getting a new company off the ground. This is a 16-step guide for building a start-up, and what are the things to avoid. Read this month’s Business 2.0 cover story, How To Build A Bullet Proof Start-Up

Perhaps, it will be something you will clip-and-save.

Also, check out B2.0’s 100 Fastest Growing (Publicly Traded) Tech Companies.

22 Responses to “How To Build A Bullet Proof Start-Up”

  1. I personally didn’t take this article as a blueprint for building a start-up and this might be the flaw behind much of the criticism here. Rather, I went into the article looking for a few really helpful tips that would make my process better – and I found them. (i.e. Thompson CompuMark, provisional patents)

    Though many other points didn’t apply to my personal situation, they didn’t have to. Remember, there are plenty of Biz 2.0 readers that reside outside of Silicon Valley and found this information useful.


  2. I read the article, and it was clear to me when they were talking about non-web startups. You have to adapt any advice to your specific path and goals. For instance, I don’t have any desire to go the traditional VC route, with “sell or IPO” being my only options for the future.

    To ‘anonymous’ with regard to making a startup “defensible from a competition perspective” … you’re only true defense is to be better and more agile than your competitors.

  3. Anonymous

    What a load of bull. If the start ups are of all types then the article should atleast make it clear. besides, one would have expected from the title to have some good ideas to make the start ups “defensible” from a competition perspective not some generic stuff that one could have got from typing “start ups and business plan” to “google”

  4. Having built a company and a product, and having sold lots of copies of it. I thought the article was brilliant. Anyone who doesn’t think of it as a roadmap, not a blueprint is missing the point.

    All deals are a little different, but the quality of the writing and thinking were excellent.

  5. Hi Guys,

    thanks for your insightful comments, and feedback.

    I have been away for a bit so it has taken me a while to get back. anyway there is a lot of people who disagree with the article. they are entitled to their opinion, and I respect that.

    i think many are confusing “start-ups” with “web start-ups.” If you read the article, the article looks at startups of all hues and shapes. there are companies that are building enterprise apps, or physical products.

    the point is that, if you read the article, it tells you generic amounts of money you might need, steps you can take to increase your odds of success.

    anyway, whatever your opinions are, I am grateful for the feedback.

  6. chauka

    Your cookie cutter approach to starting a business is full of crap in spots. Bringing people together all under one roof? Spending money on rent? Are you kidding? Whatever happened to place shifting and working at WiFi Cafes like Starbucks?

    What type of crap rule of thumb is it that you need 20 employees when you launch the business.

    Om Malik — you better check yourself on this article you wrote. Pardon me, but does one of your favorite companies, 37Signals, have 20 employees at launch time? Oh yes, and didn’t David Hanson (Ruby on Rails guru) work remotely from Copenhagen while 37Signals was located in Chicago? They were NOT all under one roof at the same time.

    This article should be titled, “How to Start A Business 1.0 Technology Company in a Business 2.0 Era”

    Big disappointment.

  7. Bulletproof?

    I began reading the article today, excited, because I thought it would contain new information, as Business 2.0 so often does. I’ve never been so dissapointed in this magazine.

    Unfortunally, you seem to be telling us to follow the paths of those who have dot-com-bombed the last time around.

  8. I guess my company is just a freak of nature, I spent a grand total of $200 before becoming profitable. I find it funny that VC’s like paul kedrosky hold up and 37 signals up as a model of a profitable Web 2.0 companies, Yet this article doesn’t consider anyone who spent less then a few million a serious company. Lets not mention the fact that none of these VC bloated companies have made a dime yet.

  9. SimplyTired

    There’s no way to say this without offending the authors of the article, but these “bullet-proof prescriptions” are laughable, don’t cut it and reflect the inexperience of the authors. I don’t care how many ceo’s, entrepreneurs you’ve interviewed. Readers, just hop on over to Guy Kawasaki’s blog and take a read (no affiliation) for a realistic window into what goes into a startup (whether it makes it or not). Om, you should stick to what you know, journalism, because when you start giving advice about stuff you haven’t yourselves experienced, you are not credible.


  10. Vincent

    If Om Malik knew how to start a company he would be doing it, not writing an article for Business 2.0 on how to do it.

    Anyone with half a brain is way better off taking the 37 Signals approach – unless you feel like burning a few million to break even.

  11. I agree with 37 signals assessment of the article. Quite a bit of stuff on this that doesnt make sense. In fact if I remember correctly this is contradictory to what Om had written earlier. Rise of the instant company or Build/Flip or something else. What was that article?

  12. I haven’t read the article yet (have the Business 2.0 mag sitting right next to me and will read through it later tonight), but it seems like 37signals wasn’t that impressed with your article:

    “People often ask us “what should I do to build a company like 37signals?”. I think we finally have a succinct answer now: Do exactly the opposite of what Business 2.0 tells you to.”

    Pretty harsh review by one of the most successful “Web 2.0” companies out there.

  13. I just read the issue today at lunch. Being a serial entrepreneur, I was impressed with your detail and step by step approach. I’m actually involved in a number of Entrepreneurial projects with local universities and wondered if you have this in pdf? OR, can I get in from Business 2.0 in pdf?

    Keep up the good work, Om.


  14. om,

    what about entrepreneurs with less experience and credibility but vision, passion and idea and moreover a team to deliever on it ? especially the ones outside of US like in south asia ?

    its just get a lot harder to hit big from here … but still trying :)

    thanks for your great blog.

  15. The first company who invents the Star Trek tricorder, warp drive, and transporter gets an autographed kitana sword held by Sulu and a bottle of vintage rum from Mr. Scott.