Statistically, most startups in the world fail. This is due to several factors: the startup didn’t address a real market need, it ran out of cash, it didn’t have the right team, it got outcompeted, or because its go-to-market strategy was insufficient. But in Israel, a culture of innovation and the startup ecosystem infrastructure continue to thrive despite the odds. It has one of the highest concentrations of startups globally and is also the global leader in research and development. What is the driving force behind Israel’s startup and tech success? Uri Adoni says it’s “chutzpah.” Adoni, a veteran venture capitalist with over 20 years in the space, has extensive experience as an investor and an executive in a wide variety of tech companies. In his new book, The Unstoppable Startup: Mastering Israel’s Secret Rules of Chutzpah, he argues that Israeli chutzpah – a bold, can-do, audacious attitude – is what accounts for the nation’s incredible track record of success.
“If you look at high-tech success stories, Israeli or not, there is almost always an important element of chutzpah that made it happen,” Adoni explains. “By mastering these secret rules of Israeli chutzpah, leaders and innovators can unlock the roadmap to success for their business.” According to Adoni, there are six rules of chutzpah:
1. Challenging Reality and The Status Quo. This aspect of Chutzpah is a mental position, a state of mind in which the entrepreneur realizes that current solutions are not good enough and believes they are capable of finding a better, faster, more effective solution, and, that they know how to define it, develop it, and market it.
2. Dominate the Market Category You Are After or Create a New One. It is not enough to just be another face in the crowd. If a startup wishes to succeed, it must aspire to lead its market category eventually. It can do this in one of two ways: challenging an existing category by offering a better way to do something or defining a new category or sub-category that didn’t exist before.
3. Foresee the Future and Innovate to Meet Its Demands. Driven by chutzpah, startup entrepreneurship refuses to believe the adage, “there is nothing new under the sun.” They believe that there is always a better solution, new needs to be met, and constant changes that require constant innovation. The entrepreneur needs to have a hypothesis of where the market is going, foresee the new market needs, and aim to build a solution for these future needs.
4. The Market Needs It (Even If It Doesn’t Know It Yet). It takes chutzpah to say, “even though you don’t feel pain, I know you have one, and even though you’re not suffering yet, I know you will soon.” This happens quite frequently with startups that are offering visionary solutions to new or impending problems. It may take a while for the customer to realize their own need, but once they do, the answer will be ready.
5. Bend the Rules. Chutzpah is about bending the rules. The rules can pertain to what is physically possible or what is considered “good practice.” One implicit rule of commerce is that nothing should be given away. Chutzpah-laden startups have repeatedly turned that rule on its head, declaring that something previously for sale is now free and creating a new business model that didn’t exist before.
6. Show, Don’t Tell. This advice is usually given to fiction writers. In the world of high-tech startups, it’s not enough to tell people what you can do – that won’t convince them. However, if you provide living proof of what your product can do and that your technology works, people believe you, there’s a good chance they will become your clients or investors. In the cutthroat, ultra-competitive world of entrepreneurship, business owners are always looking for any edge they can get to increase their odds of success. While passion, persistence, and hard work are essential, as Adoni argues, it’s chutzpah that will truly make any startup unstoppable.