The True Measure of Innovation and the Counterintuitive Nature of Startups

Aadil Verma

Hatched by Aadil Verma

Jun 16, 2024

3 min read


The True Measure of Innovation and the Counterintuitive Nature of Startups


In the fast-paced world of technology and entrepreneurship, innovation is often hailed as the driving force behind success. But what does it truly mean to be innovative? And why do founders struggle to navigate the unpredictable landscape of startups? In this article, we will explore the real measure of innovation and delve into the counterintuitive nature of startups, offering valuable insights and actionable advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.

The Measure of Innovation:

"We Don’t Sell Saddles Here" - This statement highlights a fundamental truth about innovation. The ultimate measure of innovation lies in the change it brings to human behavior. It's not about the software product itself, but rather the transformative impact it has on organizations and teams. By focusing on reducing information overload, alleviating stress, and unlocking the untapped value of corporate archives, true innovation can create better teams and ultimately drive long-term success.

The Counterintuitive Nature of Startups:

How could things be fine at 60 startups and broken at 80? The answer lies in the algorithm used. Just like in a horror movie, where the heroine is more concerned about her cheating boyfriend than the mysterious door, founders often overlook critical aspects of their startup. This can be attributed to the counterintuitive nature of startups. What may seem logical and straightforward may actually be the wrong approach. Founders struggle to listen to advice because it often challenges their beliefs. Experience eventually teaches them the value of listening and learning from others.

The Importance of Focus:

Focus is crucial for early-stage startups as founders face a myriad of problems with limited resources. By focusing on the wrong issues, founders neglect the ones that truly matter. The essence of successful startups lies in identifying the most critical problems, generating ideas for solutions, and executing them quickly. Through action and measurable results, founders can navigate the uncertain startup landscape more effectively. A small improvement in navigational ability can have a significant impact, shortening the path to success and increasing speed.

Retraining Founders:

Why are founders uncertain about what to do? Startups are often venturing into uncharted territory, where traditional rules may not apply. Additionally, many founders have been conditioned to win by "hacking the test" rather than by genuinely solving problems. This approach no longer works in the startup world. Therefore, programs like Y Combinator (YC) focus on retraining founders to adopt a new mindset. By shifting their focus from hacking the test to solving real problems, founders can overcome uncertainty and make informed decisions.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace counterintuitive thinking: Challenge your assumptions and be open to unconventional ideas. Innovation often requires thinking outside the box and taking risks.
  • 2. Prioritize and focus on what truly matters: Identify the most critical problems your startup faces and allocate your time and resources accordingly. Avoid getting lost in the multitude of tasks and distractions.
  • 3. Learn from others' experiences: Surround yourself with mentors, advisors, and a supportive network. Listen to their insights, learn from their mistakes, and leverage their expertise to accelerate your startup's growth.


True innovation goes beyond the product itself. It lies in the transformation of organizations and teams, bringing about positive change in human behavior. The counterintuitive nature of startups often challenges founders' beliefs, but by embracing focus, retraining their mindset, and seeking actionable advice, entrepreneurs can navigate the unpredictable startup landscape more effectively. Remember, the path to success may be uncertain, but with determination, adaptability, and a willingness to learn, you can overcome the odds and create a lasting impact.

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