“This Startup is so F****ing Raw!”: The Importance of Timing

April 7, 2016

Can you imagine Gordon Ramsay evaluating Startups? One thing is for sure – it would be entertaining – even though those being judged would most probably rather relive past encounters with the most obnoxious of investors or jury members. But what is the correlation between a Chef and a CEO? Between cooking and entrepreneurship? How important is timing?


In the startup world, we constantly seek out different experiences, shared by blogposts, podcasts, books and conferences – to apply those learnings to our own adventure in order to increase our odds of success. What was their recipe? Which key mixed ingredients will prevail? How can we create our own secret sauce?

It could very well be 250g of a great idea topped with an inspiring vision, 200g of a determined roadmap, 175g of a spicy business model, 100g of funding and of course, a hell of a team that executes at a high level.

Ramsay Undercooked TimingBut timing is also a key factor. If you’re in a cooking competition – let’s imagine a MasterChefesque kind of show – and you undercook your dish,  you’ll fall behind your peers whilst overcooking will ensure an abrupt end to your dream.

In Startups, timing is determinant as well – a factor that can influence failure or success. Too soon and your potential customers might not be ready for you, too late and you may very well lose your advantage to your competitors.

Even with a great idea, a strong business model, a kickass team and enough funding, you can still miss the mark – whether as a result of lacking the right technological resources or having your hands tied by the state of the industry – differing cultural, social and political contexts. Timing can be a make-it-or-break-it moment.

You could be addressing a market demand or creating a new one, but always make sure you research extensively and test your product as soon as possible. You may unfortunately find that people don’t need your product or that in fact, it isn’t the right time, well before the right conditions are in place and the demand arises.

For example the boom of the sharing economy and the fall of certain social barriers in the last few years created the perfect timing for some startups to launch and become key players.

Chris Dixon, blogger and partner at Andreseen Horrowitz, says that the right answer to “why will I succeed Timing Startupswhere others failed?” isn’t if you’re “better or smarter” but instead what explanation you give to why you’re in the right timing.

More great advice comes from Chris in that he believes that “one way to mitigate timing risk is to manage your cash accordingly. If you are trying to ride existing trends you should ramp up aggressively. If you are betting on emerging trends it is better to keep your burn low and runway long.  This takes discipline and patience but is also the way you hit it really big.”

There are plenty of issues that make the path of a Startup unpredictable and no one can promise you a highway to success. However, one of the most important steps in the life of most startups is joining a high level accelerator, where beyond crucial guidance, you can validate your idea, market and timing together with some of the most influential entrepreneurs, investors and experts around.

Bill Gross, entrepreneur, investor and founder of the Idealab Incubator shares his opinion on timing, looking at some of their most and least successful startups – guess what the key factor was.

Speaking of timing and accelerators, this Spring edition of Lisbon Challenge just started last week so make sure you keep up with everything that’s happening.

What’s your opinion on timing?

And remember, as a great philosopher once said: “It’s a big bad world full of twists and turns and people have a way of blinking and missing the moment. The moment that could of changed everything.” Ok, maybe it was just Hank Moody from Californication, but still..