Luck: The Secret Sauce of Successful Startups

By in Startups

What if successful startups are just lucky?

That was the question that Vianney Lecroart, a programmer and entrepreneur from Paris, asked in his essay a few months ago. It started an interesting and heated discussion in Hacker News and Reddit.

Lecroart argued that, since there are too many variables that goes into building a successful startup worth $10 million+, even if it’s not random, it’s too complex to be controlled.

Most entrepreneurs’ reaction after reading that essay was probably this:


One things I consistently see in a lot of successful entrepreneurs is that they have this powerful and contagious belief that they are in control of their own destiny and success.

It’s like Steve Job’s reality distortion field. Steve Jobs had this uncanny ability to convince himself and others to believe almost anything with a mix of charm, charisma, bravado, hyperbole, marketing, appeasement and persistence

Then along comes “Lean Startup.” Entrepreneurs and innovators saw it incorrectly as the excalibur sword that will slay any dragons that stood in their way of Google-like success.

But, applying the lean startup principles to new ventures doesn’t guarantee success. Sure, you can de-risk as much as possible. But in the end, there are way too many moving parts to predict success.

So what’s luck to do with it?

Here’s what I believe:

Quote Nassim Taleb

That’s what Nassim Nicholas Taleb said in his book, Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets.

In other words, luck is earned.

Fuck “Good luck.” Earn. That. Luck.’

– Jimmy Thong Tran

Kabir Shahani, CEO of Appature, which was acquired by IMS Health last year, noted the importance of luck.

As an entrepreneur, you have to rely on luck. Honestly, being an entrepreneur, in my opinion, is 95 percent luck; four percent knowing when to recognize it; and one percent hard work. I mean, that’s the equation.

Luck is the secret sauce of successful people whether in startups or not.

As I write this in the ‘dungeon’ at Boost Accelerator here in Silicon Valley, I’m still shell-shocked how I got here.

If Joy from Lean Startup Machine Toronto didn’t see my tweet, if I didn’t get invited to speak at Lean Startup Machine, if my application to speak at Lean Startup conference was rejected, if I didn’t write that essay about landing pages, I wouldn’t be here.

The stars aligned. There’s no other way to put it.

Put yourself out there. Be heroic in behavior. Earn. That. Luck.

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Product Growth for SaaS | Founder and host of the Growth Marketing Today and co-host the Product-Led Podcast with Wes Bush, author of the Product-Led Growth.

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