7 Reasons Why the Book of Esther Is Like a Startup

Here’s a quickie, partly (but only partly!) in jest:

With the Jewish holiday of Purim right around the corner, it occurs to me that the central text of this holiday, the Book of Esther , has a lot to do just about the typical startup journey:

  1. A startup that is seemingly an overnight success usually takes 9+ years to come to fruition (“In the 3rd year of his reign… On the 13 th day of the 12th month…”)
  2. The best startups attack truly huge markets (“… who ruled from India to Ethiopia, 127 nations”)
  3. There is typically an established incumbent that has become complacent and less responsive to their clients’ needs (“But Queen Vashti refused to appear by the king’s order…”)
  4. Many startups operate in stealth mode for an extended period of time (“Esther did not divulge her race or ancestry, for Mordechai had instructed her not to tell”)
  5. Even after landing their first big account and getting a substantial lead, steps often still face stiff, well funded competition (“After these events, King Achashverosh promoted Haman… above all his fellow ministers. ‘…and I [Haman] will pay 10,000 silver talents to… the King’s treasuries.’ “)
  6. But great startups know how to mobilize their entire community to counter any threat (“Go and gather all the Jews who are in Shushan and fast for my sake, do not eat and do not drink for 3 days, night and day.”)
  7. And when the startup finally best all the competition, they jacked prices up through the roof! (“King Achashverosh levied a tax upon the mainland and the islands of the sea.”)

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About Andrew Ackerman

Andrew is recovering consultant turned serial entrepreneur, startup mentor and angel investor. He is the Managing Director at Dreamit, currently in charge of the UrbanTech accelerator program. Andrew has also written for Fortune, Forbes, Propmodo, CREtech, Builders Online, Architech Magazine, Multifamily Executive, AlleyWatch, Edsurge, The 74 Million, et. al. Andrew began his career at Booz & Co consulting on strategy and operations for Fortune 100 clients. After a brief stint at Kaplan helping transition their traditional classroom test prep services into online products, he then joined Bunk1.com as COO/Head of Product where he spent eight years building it from scratch to the leading provider of web services to the summer camp industry. After being bought out of Bunk1 in 2008, Andrew managed a family office where he was responsible for both incubating new ventures and for managing over $50M of alternative assets including hedge, private equity, and venture capital funds as well as a number of direct investments in private companies. Andrew was also the founding CEO of Layercake.com and has a keen appreciation for how hard it is to build a successful startup, even under the best of circumstances. Andrew received his MBA in Operations & Marketing from Chicago Booth (Beta Gamma Sigma) and a BA in Economics & Political Science from Johns Hopkins University (Phi Beta Kappa). He speaks Hebrew fluently as well as some Spanish, French & Japanese and is working on JavaScript.

One response to “7 Reasons Why the Book of Esther Is Like a Startup”

  1. Reuben Levine says :

    Very clever Andrew.

    Of course, there is one cardinal principle that the story of Purim teaches the start-up. Never give away the future to that one big first customer that thinks their name recognition alone is what is between you and success, and the notion that they’re doing you a favor by allowing you to pilot your product. Stand your ground in your belief system that you are value-added and that they should pay fair market value for it (… As Mordicai would not bow down to Hamen and later he lead Mordecai through the streets on the King Ahashveirosh’s horse and in his royal attire…)

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