5 Startup Myths & Giants that Proved Them Wrong

Myth #1: You need a groundbreaking new idea.

If every successful business was a brand new idea, we would never see progress in any industry. Most new business ideas aren’t completely transformative, but rather they improve and innovate parts of an existing business model.

1-800-GOT-JUNK? took the painful process of ditching junk, made adjustments including the added convenience of scheduled pickups and great customer service to build a business. Now, the company is operating in three countries with 160 franchises and generating $182,500,000 in revenue last year. Picking up junk isn’t groundbreaking. But the way they treated their customers was.

Myth #2: You need to be passionate about the product.

Most startup fairytales stem from an ah-ha moment when the founder was doing something they’re passionate about. While this ‘spark’ is one beginning to a story, it’s not the only way to start a new business.

Wayfair was founded by two friends and college roommates, Niraj Shah and Steve Conine, who has a passion for starting businesses and cracking the code to success. They had to work 24-7, answering customer service calls, coding and building the business, but it didn’t stem from a passion for home goods. It came from a passion for innovation and building cool things.

Myth #3: You need investor validation to prove your business model.

Most founders are familiar with the gauntlet that is investor pitching. Hundreds of no’s in hopes of the one yes that makes your future. Not only for the financial backing, but for the industry validation of an idea.

FUBU approached business scaling a little differently. The founder, Daymond John, financed his clothing company by taking out a loan against his home to get his company off the ground. From there, he brought together a small team to put in the leg work of cutting, sewing and delivering orders. Product validation was a achieved through smart marketing and the customers themselves, not outside investors. It wasn’t until he got an offer from Samsung to support with manufacturing while fulfilling on a $300,000 worth of orders did they take outside investment.

Myth #4: You need to be first to market.

The launch of any new product or new idea tends to be a rollercoaster. There are bumps in the road, and inevitably some user adoption hurdles that need to be overcome. With a completely new idea, there will probably need to be some education before adoption, too. This makes the ramp-up period longer than if the consumers were already familiar with a product.

The ultimate success of Facebook is one of the main examples of the benefits of not being first to market. Myspace and Friendster were established way before Facebook, and for a number of reasons, Facebook was the one that dominated. Society was more prepared for an entirely digital community as well as familiar with how a platform like Facebook functioned.

Myth #5: You need everyone to believe in you along the way.

When you’re really on the brink of something extraordinary, or even just something others hadn’t thought about, there will usually be resistance. Most people tend to not like what they don’t know because it scares them. For some, they don’t like what they don’t know because they think they do know. Whatever the reason, new means scary for most people.

James Dyson, the founder of the Dyson bagless vacuum and many other inventions now seen everywhere, knows this better than anyone. When he first approached the vacuum industry with the idea of a bagless vacuum, people scoffed. If there was a better solution, one of the giants at the time would have already come up with it. This didn’t phase him, he continued to power forward with confidence that this was something that would change the world, and it did.


These are just a few of the myths about starting a business. There are so many others, and  so many other companies that overcame seemingly impossible odds to become unicorns in their own right. These stories, as well as many of your own, show that every startup story is unique, and there is no set path to success. With enough drive and perseverance, there’s really no limit to what you can achieve.

Paige Soucie

Community Director at Ampsy. Lover of all things travel and fitness. On a mission to help businesses engage and activate customers.

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