Why (Most) Internet Startups Suck?

Inspired by WhyDoesEverythingSuck.com and learning from Kroomsa.com, following is why I think most internet startups suck:

  • They Give Away Things for Free
    When the business model depends on free, only a very few lucky companies can survive. Advertising, at best, should be a secondary source of income for a startup. How would startups keep on innovating their services when they are giving away stuff for free. Where is the motivation, dude? On the other hand, when you charge for what you are offering, there is a direct incentive to improve your services in order to attract higher prices or more customers, which directly translates into better earnings. Thus, charging for something you offer kick-starts a positive feedback loop which reinforces itself. And, that is good for a startup.
  • They are VERY easy to start
    This directly translates into absence of vision and low barriers to entry. When you don’t have to invest time thinking about why you are doing something, you end up doing a quick but messy thing. This is especially true for startups. Today, starting an internet startup is so easy that anybody, really anybody, with a basic knowledge of web can start a so-called internet company. People find it cool to have a company these days. And, successful startups are seldom cool. So, in a nutshell, either try to do something not-so-cool and/or try to do something hard, which will force you to think about the reasons for your motivation.
  • There are Gazzilions of Internet Startups
    While for the industry and consumers, it is good to have so much of choice, for entrepreneurs it not so good to have an idea and then discover that there are already tens of internet startups offering *exactly* the same service or product (and, chances are, for free). How is your new internet startup going to make money when some freaks are offering the same thing in a better package, at a better price and with a better marketing budget. So, get a little away from Internet and think if you can do something useful in traditional fields where there is a moderate amount of competition and where barriers to entry are higher.

So, now we agree that most startups suck, what should you do to prevent your next internet startup from suckage?

  • Do away with relying on advertising solely.
  • Don’t give away stuff for free.
  • Repeat, Don’t give away stuff for free.
  • Don’t jump at every idea you get. Give it the sweet time it deserves.
  • Think about entering into an industry/category/idea where barrier to entry is low and there is not too much competition out there
  • Know when an idea is a project and when it is a startup. Mostly, what you call a startup is actually a project. So, call it a project.
  • Do something serious. Really. There are a lot of problems waiting to be solved: poverty, digital distribution, literacy, government accountability, etc.

Lastly, one suggestion: Do justice to your time. It is more important that you think.


  1. I have to disagree. I believe giving away solid, researched information is the key to building trust with a possible customer.

    Essentially you have created free content here; information that cost me nothing.

    My website strives to bring together timely articles from news sources and the results of major studies to help people who are starting an internet business or who have failed and wonder why.

  2. @Elaine:

    While I agree that giving away content for free is the key to building customer connection, I don’t agree that it is a good business.

    Giving things away for free can be thought of as a hobby or charity but by no means business.

  3. Well Paras I share all your reasons why web startup sucks.Specially that free economy stuff. I raised this issue in bar camp and everyone was loking at me if i am a alien ๐Ÿ™‚

    I thought web 2.0 is about free economy and things will change with semantic web.But today i read interview of NOva , founder of TWINE.and guess what they said they see adversting as major source of earning.

    nWw I can see this is as pure media business.No more discussions

  4. Web companies suck in general. And try to either get a job, or get customer support from these tweeny-saturated “great idea” companies. You can’t why? Try and find a phone number anywhere on these amazing websites, it’s like, “oh we are so great, we don’t want to be bothered with customers, or applicants, just click on us from Google, and buy advertising from us. Even the White House has a phone number on it’s site, honestly who the f_ck are you people? GET A REAL JOB!! Not some crappy, pathetic, pastime that wholly relies on a computer screen. Whats funny is, if you get sick from a McDonalds hamburger, you can bring it back, and they are more helpful at welcoming you to voice your complain, but if you should receive non-workable links, or problem with your “free” account of some crappy web 2.0 site, then suddenly there is no one to hear your voice. Pathetic. GET A REAL AND WORTHWHILE JOB. BE A REAL MAN, OR A REAL WOMAN, don’t be chumps. Chumps.

  5. Happy Camper,

    Some companies like ours (mobikwik.com) do publish their support numbers online and I agree with you that customer support is not given enough importance. But things are changing, for the better.

  6. Ironically sometimes when people get something free they tend to complain more than those paying or expect even more for free.

    Psychology also comes into it sometimes too where an individual will associate spending more with getting better quality, while much of the time paying more will result in better quality, it isn’t always the case.

    I very much agree that if something is too easy to get rolling then its probably best avoided, otherwise hundreds, maybe even thousads will try and do the exact same thing.

  7. Most start ups suck because no one participating asks the main questions. Why are we doing this? Why is this necessary?

    They are like a cancer that spreads for the sake of spreading.

    99/100 of the products are based on wants, not actual human needs.

    VC’s going after startups are like detectives going into a hoarders home. There might be one worthwile thing in there, but 99.99% of it is useless junk.

  8. Web startups all stink. Maybe 1 in 200 will succeed. Most of them simply don’t have a viable business model. They don’t sell something that someone is willing to pay actual money for.

    I work for one right now, but not for much longer. BTW, I’m 36, and I’ve been around. I’ve only worked for 1 startup; never again.

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