Whether you are an investor looking for new startups to fund or an applicant looking to work for a startup, learning what figures out success can be hugely beneficial for any aspiring entrepreneurs.
No matter if you are an investor looking to fund new startups or if you are an applicant looking to work for a startup, learning what figures out success can be hugely beneficial for any aspiring entrepreneurs. There are several successful startups which could provide valuable lessons to anyone who is inclined to start a company. I’ll share of them.

It is evident from the examples of Yankee Candle and Mattel that product development and a robust go-to-market strategy are important pillars of startup success. All these companies have focused on the customer’s requirements while inventing new products to gain entry into competitive marketplaces.


And in being able to move this from an idea to a functioning company, you really have to put in the graft and elbow grease and find a little bit of flair too, as the Amazon founder demonstrated in quitting his job on Wall Street to try his new idea of selling books online.

Mag Instrument was a one-man machine shop making precision parts for industry; a mother-and-son hobby shop specialising in cryogenic freezing techniques; and a tiny Welding of America producing parts for some of the largest suppliers to the aerospace industry in the country. But in 1979 it debuted the Maglite: the quintessential symbol of US ingenuity and the stuff of startup fairy tales.

There are a number of factors that are crucial to any startup’s success: building a strong product, developing a good go-to-market strategy and building up an effective culture are just a few of them. Emphasising these various factors, and being proactive about gathering information, allow a startup to stay on top of economic changes and remain ahead of the competition (by focusing on research and development and through flexibility to market pressures).


When Mattel launched Barbie the fashion doll – the American Dream – in 1959, it was much more than just a toy for little girls; it became a role model for every girl and woman to follow her goals, dreams and passions.

Mattel sat at a crossroads in 2018. The toy empire was scrambling to find some way, somewhere to land as Toys R Us stores started closing one by one, and no other avenue seemed open. Enter Ynon Kreiz, an Israeli UCLA MBA who ran the YouTube content producer Maker Studios and who’d been closely advising Haim Saban (of Power Rangers fame).

Kreiz recognised that he could transform Mattel into a media company that would leverage its massive portfolio of toy brands (Lego doesn’t even come close) with a steady supply of projects. He brought in fresh new talent, and raided other companies for more, all in service of reinventing a new Mattel for where kids are now – the Barbie movie helped, and it will continue to be pushed even higher by new opportunities and new challenges.

It’s Your Ship

Mike Abrashoff transformed the USS Benfold from one of the worst ships in the navy to a ‘model of teamwork and efficiency’ shortly after he took over as the ship’s commander. He was so impressed with the incredible turn-around he witnessed that he resigned his lucrative commission, and now travels the country teaching audiences how to increase organisational performance.

Mike then outlines the essential lessons in It’s Your Ship that will help you maximise the potential of the men and women who work for you and take your leadership style to the next level – whether it’s to lead a ‘ship’ consisting of a military force, a department within a company, a family, or even your house! Mike emphasises the importance of building the kind of culture that enables taking risks and thinking outside of the box rather than prescribing environments of disciplined submission that demand all those in the team be perfect – in this video Mike tells viewers that insisting on perfection will curb creativity and inhibit team morale. Creativity stunted by being asked to be perfect.


Apoorva Mehta had no inkling, when he decided to cash in his dream and quit Amazon’s engineering division and his first startups, that his entrepreneurial path would take him to billionaire status and the creation of a disruptive app used to shape the shopping habits of millions. He simply had the foresight, and unwavering grit, to make it happen.

Instacart simplifies online shopping for its customers by delivering groceries straight from stores to their doorsteps at the hands of personal shoppers, and by granting its retail partners and advertisers access to detailed granular shopping data.

One critical lesson that Instacart can provide founders is the importance of designing for the interests of multiple sets of stakeholders, and making tough calls that nobody likes but everyone can at least tolerate. For instance, they decided to pay shoppers based on batches of orders rather than commission, so that they could keep their labour costs down while still reaping the benefits of economies of scale as they scaled.