What is the typical journey of a successful startup? Four experts took a shot and tried to answer this question.
- Steve Blank — What do I do now
- Morgan Brown — 5 phases of the startup lifecycle
- Brian Balfour — Traction vs Growth
- Reid Hoffman — Blitzscaling
The illustration below sums up the startup lifecycle according to each of these authors.
After the obligatory “garage” phase, all models converge to a single common point: the PMF, or Product-Market Fit. Then the startup gradually expands into several channels, several countries, and several products, and becomes a scale-up, or growth machine in the words of Brian Balfour. Eventually, the last stage is a stabilization of the startup, because of the growth slowing down (Morgan Brown) and/or because of a liquidity event (Steve Blank).
So a typical startup lifecycle consists of 3 major stages: Garage, Growth Machine, Unicorn.