Startups Need to Change Their Cultures in Cockroach Era
Free-flowing VC funding has perpetuated a culture that focuses less on building a strong customer base

As unicorns go out of style with VCs, the glossy, idealized cultures of startups will need to change.

A recent article from TechCrunch notes that free-flowing VC funding has softened startups and perpetuated cultures that focus more on small wins like offices and sought-after hires, rather than big wins like building a strong customer base and generating revenue.

Unlike mythical unicorns, cockroaches don’t require palatial offices, onsite chefs, and playgrounds consisting of pool tables and arcade games. They are perfectly comfortable with a dingy basement, relying on scraps for sustenance.

This shift in culture may be a trade-off in attracting top talent, but one that should benefit startups in the long-run. Miriam Diwan, a former portfolio manager and the co-founder and CEO of NowMoveMe, tells Inc. that “the employees looking for Facebook or Google levels of perks are not the best fit” for startups.

Similarly, YCombinator president Sam Altman says “the people who get hurt most often are employees at these startups who look at these valuations and think they aren’t pretend.”

Cultural change can be difficult for any organization. A key challenge for startups is to ensure that changes are aligned with long-term strategic plans and organizational values.