202 Advisors / Partners 'None of us is as smart as all of us'

Why are startups like "in the heart of the sea"

A colleague recently recommended to 202 the book and soon to be movie “In the heart of the sea”. It is a great tale of whaling from the Massachusetts of two centuries ago, the true life basis for the novel “Moby Dick”. It’s a lot more fun to read and adventure-filled than Melville’s classic, more like Treasure Island or Robinson Crusoe.

So, why is whaling a lot like a startup? Sailors didn’t have salaries and nine to five jobs, as folks do in big box businesses, instead they signed on for a perilous voyage of 2 or even 3 years for a share of the value that the ship could fish from the sea. The successful moved up the ranks of whaling and the captains could move up in ships or retire and become backers of multiple ships, diversifying their risk. Leadership, teamwork, staying in swim lanes, getting the right folks in and the wrong folks out, a mix of audacity, good seamanship and a dash of right place and time lead to success and wealth, just as it can do with todays startups in hi-tech, bio-tech and the myriad of financial backers. For those scared of shipwreck, scurvy or marooning then the sea and perhaps startups are not for you!