Build a Startup the Karl Pilkington Way

“The little round headed buffoon” as Ricky Gervais would affectionately introduce him at the start of each podcast episode. Karl Pilkington is beloved by many for having absolutely no filter, if the man thinks it, he says it. and it got me thinking…

Are people over complicating building a startup and thinking too much? Karl knows what he wants and makes it very obvious just what that is, surely he can’t be the only one who wonders “Why do people take pictures of mimes? everyone looks like a mime in a picture”…….


Here is a few of my favorite Karl quotes:

“If you don’t have a plan, you can end up doing some interesting things”


Right you are Karl, Assess the demand. The classic quote- “don’t make something cool, make something that people want” between 80 and 90% of Startups fail and it’s not through lack of trying or not being smart enough. I have seen it myself,  ideas that seem great, seem like they are solving a problem, but still fail. There is certainly a perception of the Silicon Valley developer type with the headphones on hypnotised by their computer screen. Don’t be that guy at first, be Karl Pilkington in ‘An idiot abroad’ visit new opportunities but keep it simple.


Start a podcast, blog, take pictures, and give it away for free. Build content around what you know and don’t be scared to ask your audience questions. They will tell you what they want and you can build business around the demand. A great example of this is my friend Jordan Harbinger the founder of ‘The Art of Charm’ he built a badass podcast then a business based of what his listeners wanted. Good work mate!


“Jellyfish are 97 per cent water or something, so how much are they doing? Just give them another three per cent and make them water. It’s more useful.”


Don’t allow your idea to be 97% of something and 3 of the other. After you have assessed demand make a disciplined effort and be consistent. The humble A/B Test by nature can only have 1 variable to generate solid data, so be patient and don’t have too many moving parts. Look at the way my good friends at TruBrain did it. TruBrain is a team that maintains what Tomas Ferrari calls “tremendous discipline” around knowing when to cut off endless musing (the stuff that makes and now breaks so many careers in corporate life) and get to testing theories.  Good news / bad news – the data wins.  I know this is terrifying news for middle managers looking to hang onto bloated salaries and avoid disruption in the marketplace because they have tuition and diapers to buy.  Tech is eating the world; adapt or die.  Testing & Data > Musing & politics of seniority.  “Digital Kaizen” as Celso Ferrari like to put it (the Fulbright Scholar identical twin of Tomas); these are the guys fixing to each your lunch.

“You’ve always got to expect the worst, haven’t you? That’s why we pop a seat belt on when we get in the car”


Prepare for failure, and build lean. Eric Ries must get credit for this vision, it’s not a case of self belief, motivation and all these ideals. The Lean Startup is about learning what your customers really want. It’s about testing your vision continuously, adapting and adjusting before it’s too late… Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.Taken from Inc-  Brilliant college kids sitting in a dorm are inventing the future. Heedless of boundaries, possessed of new technology and youthful enthusiasm, they build a company from scratch. Their early success allows them to raise money and bring an amazing new product to market. They hire their friends, assemble a superstar team, and dare the world to stop them.The hardest part is of course trusting the data as anyone who considers him/ herself an entrepreneur by nature should be stubborn and that’s a key element. However, trust the data and for god sakes “TEST AND ADJUST”


“If you can’t do it, don’t do it”


Letting people do what they want is very important when building a startup. It might feel like your baby but you must have trust in the people you bring on board. It’s not about who he or she is, how old they are, what their background is, if you went to college or not. If there is a channel that needs unlocking and someone fancys it, let em have at it. The reason why this works is because any theory needs to be proven by MVT (Min viable test). It’s about – information seeking/ results & data orientation > I think because I have my own office. Once you have the data back you will soon know that “if you can’t do it, don’t do it” and no one can dispute that. Data wins again!

“People who live in a glass house have to answer the door.”


If you have ever walked into the offices of a tech Startup you will notice some big differences to the offices of corporate life. No cubicles, no hierarchy big office with a fish tank, no suites that make it obvious to whom earns what, no yes sir no sir. Everyone is accessible and everyone is adding value. No hiding behind computer screens. Post it up on the big screen and map out what you’re working on and how it’s growing the business. Prove your theory and run with it. It doesn’t sit on some VP’s desk waiting for permission, youthful startup environment doesn’t have time for that. Life is too short. Startups are built in glass houses and always answer the door to the next big thing.   karl pilkington 001


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