As hackers and often founders of startups ourselves, it is all too easy to forget the benefits startups provide from the consumer perspective while we’re busy glorifying the perks and excitement on the producer end. Below I list three ways we can hack startups themselves, independent of whether we belong to the startup community or not.
1. Lower prices
This is a top-notch benefit only startups can deliver, owing to the fact that they are often backed by venture capital and as such can afford high customer acquisition costs and low profit margins in the early stages. Offers and discounts abound everywhere there’s a budding startup.
I’ve myself enjoyed 50, 60, sometimes 75 per cent discount on food and hotel prices. But how does one actually go about hacking this benefit?
Simple. Whenever you have to choose between companies for a product or service, prefer the startup company.
2. Superior customer service
We all know all too well that customer service is nowadays absolutely brutal. We’re all tired of twiddling thumbs and pressing numbers on the phone screen for an eternity before we get to speak to a customer care executive. But not so when it comes to startups?
More often than not, you’ll be surprised by the customer service a startup delivers. You shoot an email and usually get a response within minutes or hours, and not days or weeks (or never).
This type of superior customer service is made possible by the small size and unpolluted values of a startup, both of which are absent once it has bloated to the size of a gigantic firm rife with overcapitalism where the customer is no longer the first priority but falls to the bottom, where he is exploited by the firm trying to please Wall Street and investors.
3. Rising stars
This one is less obvious than the first two. Think how YouTube made it possible for Justin Bieber and countless others to carve outstanding careers seemingly out of thin air. Think how the various app stores suddenly made it possible for developers to become the new millionaires and billionaires.
The current wave of startups creating opportunities is probably being led by companies like Medium- which has recently begun to pay writers for quality work.
The important thing to note about companies as big as Google, Apple, YouTube etc. is that the ones who were the first and the earliest to bet on their potential reaped the handsome rewards. In other words, these companies created opportunities mainly while they were still small and rising, suitable to be called startups.
The equation is simple. The earlier you join such a startup, the more risk you’re willing to take in the event of its failing. But reward is directly proportional to risk. So, it makes sense to join early and ride the wave.