Don’t Found a Company unless you Love Excel

“(Venture backed) Startups are all about math. Sooner founders realize that, the less emotional trauma & confusion they’ll experience.” - Om Malik (@om)

Excel. Yes, you may scoff at it because it is a Microsoft product. Or you may thumb your nose at it because only accountants use it. Or heck, you may not see at all why it relates to a founder of a startup.

Startup Math isn't for Dummies
But you’d be wrong. Don’t start a company unless you love Excel.

The reason is pretty simple. Your job as a founder is to make a math equation work. R > E. You need to show how you can make the revenue you earn from a customer exceed the expenses you incur to get that customer. And you need to do it at “scale”, whatever that means in your world. Of course there are other costs and all, but at the core you need to prove on a small scale that you can get revenue above the costs to get that revenue.

Seems simple. Seems obvious. But you don’t really know the complexity of it until you are up to your eyeballs in tabs, pivot tables and complicated formulas. And you do that magic in Excel.

Startups are a math problem. And you need the best tool to solve it. It’s called Excel. Try to make Google Spreadsheet work, but eventually you’ll be like, “Why can’t this do X, Y or Z?” Yup, it’s because it isn’t Excel.

And I’d urge you to start early. Even if you are designing products or doing development work or selling – you should be using Excel. Your startup is one gigantic math problem. And everything really flows into it.

Excel. It’s a founder’s best friend. If you don’t like Excel, give starting a company a second though… seriously.

Math is hard. It’s awesome, but definitely hard.


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