David is a co-founder and the CEO of TechStars.
Startups do almost everything at a disadvantage. Initially, most startups have less money than their competitors. Startups have less credibility. They have fewer customers. They have fewer employees, which means there are typically fewer people focused on things like marketing, sales, and product development. Resources are scarce at a startup.
But, just like in the martial arts, the best startups use the weight of their opponents against them. Bureaucracy slows down larger companies. People do less because making a mistake can be politically costly. Risk takers who are wrong get fired or lose power internally. The larger the company, the more likely it is to be slow.
If there's one competitive advantage that most startups have, it's that they can do more faster. And because they can do more faster they can learn more faster. They can immediately throw things away that don't work because nobody cares anyway. Nobody is trying to protect a brand that doesn't exist, and nobody has any reason to be afraid of small failures. Startups know that's just part of the process.
When you ask CEOs of major companies what they're most worried about, one common answer is "a couple of guys in a garage somewhere." Why? Because their larger and more established competitors have too much to lose to try something radically ...