a tale of linguine (and startups)

roasted pumpkin pasta

i stumbled upon a brilliant comparison between cooking pasta and launching a startup a while ago, and it’s been on my mind since then. here it is:

How do you cook linguine? Yesterday, I made linguine. I cooked the pasta while my wife made a delicious lemon basil sauce. After about eight minutes, I tasted the linguine to see if it was done. It wasn’t, so I cooked it for a couple more minutes. Now some people don’t taste pasta to see when it is done. Some people throw it all around the kitchen to see if it sticks on the walls. That seems odd to me. The point of cooking pasta is to make it edible, not sticky.

Attitudes about starting companies, especially web companies, are not unlike methods of cooking linguine. Some people think that you “throw something out there” and see if it sticks. If it sticks, it’s done and you’ve cooked up a startup success. Figuratively speaking, there are a lot of awful-tasking starchy strands of uncooked linguine sticking all over the web.

The best way to get a startup right is to cook it for a reasonable amount of time and then taste it to see if it’s done.

All metaphors break down if you push them too far. So I’m not going to keep stirring the pot here. Startups that make news and make people happy are cooked to taste. The founders are personally interested in the product. They don’t throw the idea out to see if it sticks (i.e. see if millions of people happen to think it’s done). Founders of successful startups know that if it tastes good, people are going to like it.

Here’s a lesson learned. Entrepreneurs need to learn how to cook.

these days of instant startups, it seems to be all about “sticking”, and much less about doing something remarkable, or being the best at something.

sigh. fatigue 2.0, anyone?


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