Unlocking the Potential: The Intersection of Startup Growth and Knowledge Transfer



Jul 04, 20234 min read


Unlocking the Potential: The Intersection of Startup Growth and Knowledge Transfer

In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, startup growth and knowledge transfer play crucial roles in determining the success of ventures. Both areas have undergone significant transformations in recent years, thanks to advancements in technology and the rise of platforms like YouTube. In this article, we will explore the relationship between startup growth and venture returns, while also examining the YouTube revolution in knowledge transfer.

Seed-stage returns have long been a topic of interest for investors and entrepreneurs alike. What sets these early-stage investments apart from later rounds? Two key factors contribute to the extremity of seed-stage returns. Firstly, startups tend to experience faster growth in their early stages, which can lead to exponential returns. Secondly, seed investments have more time to compound these higher growth rates. As a result, investors can significantly increase their expected return by diversifying their portfolio and investing in every credible seed deal.

But how can investors ensure they don't miss out on the best seed deals? The simplest approach is to invest in every credible deal. Simulations conducted on 10-year investing windows for seed-stage deals suggest that fewer than 10% of investors will outperform the market index, even if they possess exceptional skills in deal selection. By broadly indexing into every credible deal, investors can maximize their chances of capturing the most promising startups in their early stages.

To delve deeper into the dynamics of startup growth, an analysis of AngelList data was conducted. The study aimed to compare the relative value of each year of a startup's life in terms of compounded returns. Surprisingly, the findings revealed a drop-off in growth during a startup's second year of funding, with a continued decrease in growth rates thereafter. This highlights the importance of early-stage investments, as they offer the potential for exponential growth that may not be sustainable in later rounds.

Shifting our focus to the YouTube revolution in knowledge transfer, we encounter a double-edged sword. While modern video media, including YouTube, may be blamed for shortening attention spans and diverting attention from longer-form means of communication, it has also revolutionized the mass-scale transmission of tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge refers to knowledge that cannot be adequately conveyed through verbal or written instruction. It encompasses skills like artistic creativity and startup assessment, which are best learned through observation and imitation.

In the past, transmitting tacit knowledge required in-person interactions, allowing learners to closely observe skilled individuals in action. However, the availability of video content on platforms like YouTube has democratized this process. People who struggle to learn through traditional means can now turn to videos to watch and imitate, enabling them to acquire tacit knowledge that would have otherwise been inaccessible.

This shift is particularly significant considering the limitations of traditional online courses. Despite their initial promise, massive open online courses (MOOCs) experienced high dropout rates, with only 5% of enrolled students completing a single course. The lack of personal observation and imitation, essential for acquiring tacit knowledge, hindered the effectiveness of these courses. In contrast, YouTube's "how-to" category has witnessed a staggering 70% year-on-year growth in searches, indicating a strong demand for video-based learning.

By capturing the intricate details that may go unnoticed by experimental scientists or instructors, YouTube videos provide a window into the world of skilled individuals. This transparency fosters collaboration and enables the development of a truly open science. Through video-based knowledge transfer, we can go beyond traditional methods like preregistration and the sharing of source code and data sets, unlocking new possibilities for innovation and advancement.

In conclusion, the intersection of startup growth and knowledge transfer holds immense potential for investors, entrepreneurs, and learners alike. By diversifying investments in seed-stage deals, investors can increase their chances of capturing high-growth startups. Meanwhile, the YouTube revolution in knowledge transfer offers a gateway to acquiring tacit knowledge, bridging the gap for those who struggle with traditional learning methods.

As we navigate this evolving landscape, here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Embrace diversification: When investing in seed-stage deals, consider diversifying your portfolio to maximize your chances of capturing the most promising startups. Broadly indexing into credible deals can be a simple yet effective strategy.
  • 2. Leverage video-based learning: Don't underestimate the power of video in acquiring tacit knowledge. Explore YouTube and other video platforms to find valuable "how-to" content that aligns with your interests and goals.
  • 3. Foster collaboration and transparency: If you're a scientist or researcher, consider leveraging video-based knowledge transfer to enhance collaboration and open science practices. Share your expertise, techniques, and insights through video content, contributing to the collective advancement of knowledge.

By embracing these recommendations, we can harness the potential of startup growth and knowledge transfer for a more innovative and interconnected future.


  1. "Startup Growth and Venture Returns: What We Found When We Analyzed Thousands of VC Deals", https://www.angellist.com/blog/venture-returns (Glasp)
  2. "The YouTube Revolution in Knowledge Transfer | Samo Burja", https://samoburja.com/the-youtube-revolution-in-knowledge-transfer/ (Glasp)

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