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Are Rodeos similar to Startups?

· startups

This week I went to a rodeo for the first time in my life. I've been to English riding events before - dressage, hunter jumpers, and eventing - but this was my first rodeo. The punchline: I'm hooked! It was such an entertaining evening with several events, the constant threat of danger for the cowboys and cowgirls, and the thrill of a rallying crowd.

Naturally, at some point I started wondering if there were any similarities to the events playing out in front of me and a startup. Here's what I saw:

  1. Sports like bull riding, bull jumping, and barrel racing that to a newbie seemed incredibly risky. However, to those well versed in them as controllable risks. 
  2. Athletes realizing those risks right in front of me - making the 8 second mark or not on bull riding or getting above or below 17 seconds in the barrel racing.
  3. Competitors generally supporting each other, furthering the love of their sport even though they were at risk of beating or losing to one another.
  4. Support staff and trailers in the background, off the playing field, which came together to get the athletes into their 8 or 16 seconds of fame. 

Punchline - There are Definite Parallels

For each of the four points above I believe we can draw very close parallels to the life of a startup.

  1. Most folks enjoy the "security" of a paycheck at a 9 to 5 job, however, entrepreneurs view the world through a different lens. We see the chance of being let go by someone or something out of our control as more risky than pulling together a value proposition and being responsible for proving it in a marketplace.
  2. While I've never heard of a startup succeeding (or failing) in 8 seconds, it's fun to celebrate those who are able to realize the successes of the blood, sweat, tears, long days, long nights, and gut wrenching decisions which all came together to make their startup succeed. 
  3. All of the successful entrepreneurs I've worked with are generally happy to support other entrepreneurs and also have a healthy respect for their competitors. I'm sure the opposite also rings true on the rodeo field - those who harbor unhealthy opinions about their competitors (especially more successful ones) have a higher probability of failing.
  4. Underneath the press releases, funding rounds, product launches, and moments of glory, their is a tremendous amount of work and support, often by a large number of people coming together, in order for a startup to succeed. 
One week ago I would never have imagined myself writing this article. Yet here's another example of how getting out there and experiencing new things can lead to new connections.
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