It’s no secret that the vast majority of startups fail. But what’s so special about the precious few that succeed? What makes them gain so much traction and scale so quickly while other entrepreneurs just spin their wheels and ultimately fail?
On our Submit Your Startup page on VentureBreak, one of our tips for getting noticed is to “be a purple cow.” This links to Seth Godin’s book, Purple Cow: Transform Your Business By Being Remarkable—a must-read for entrepreneurs.
I could stop here and just tell you to read the book, but a few people have asked for clarification, so I’d like to explain why I think it’s so important to “be a purple cow.”
I get hundreds of emails a week from entrepreneurs who want me to write about their startups. After a few years of doing what I do, you start to see the same things over and over again. Things that were once interesting start to become background noise because everyone is doing it.
The startups that I actually find interesting enough to write about are those that a) do something radically different than anything I’ve seen before, or b) tell an interesting story that I’ve never heard before. Bonus points if they do both.
The same thought process takes place regardless of whether you’re looking for press, investors, or customers.
Seth Godin articulates it quite well:
When my family and I were driving through France a few years ago, we were enchanted by the hundreds of storybook cows grazing on picturesque pastures right next to the highway. For dozens of kilometers, we all gazed out the window, marveling about how beautiful everything was.
Then within twenty minutes, we started ignoring the cows. The new cows were just like the old cows, and what once was amazing was now common. Worse than common. It was boring.
Cows, after you’ve seen them for a while, are boring. They may be perfect cows, attractive cows, cows with great personalities, cows lit by beautiful light, but they’re still boring.
A Purple Cow, though. Now that would be interesting. (For a while.)
You can apply any number of analogies to this concept, but the point is that you have to be different. Don’t be just another cow grazing on the pasture. Be a purple cow.
You can get a copy of Purple Cow by Seth Godin here.