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Why Startup is the new Wild Wild West

Above the cotton wool trees lining the Little Bighorn River, on a small hill, now known as Last Stand Hill, lies the remains of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and his men of the 7th Calvary. The Battle of the Little Bighorn would be forever etched into the American history of the West, as the single most emphatic defeat for the United States Army against the Indians, largely led by the Sioux.

On the morning of 25th June 1876, Custer dashed to Little Bighorn upon hearing that Sitting Bull, the Sioux’s charismatic leader and Crazy Horse, the famed Sioux warrior are spotted at the encamped Indian village. He was in such hurry not to let any of these two leaders slip through his fingers, Custer ordered his men to leave the heavy artillery, Gaitling guns behind. Custer was confident that victory was at hand and he will fulfill his own prophecy that, “there are not enough Indians in the world to defeat the Seventh Cavalry.” By noon, in what was described by native Indians as the time “as long as it takes a hungry man to eat a meal.”, Custer was killed by two fatal wounds, one to the abdomen and the other to his left temple. Lay slain around him was his men, his two brothers, a nephew and a brother-in-law.

The band of Sioux and Cheyenne warriors, celebrated a great victory as seen by Sitting Bull in his visions but it was a hollowed one. Within a year, Sitting Bull would lead his people and escaped to Canada while Crazy Horse surrendered to the “Blue Coats” resigning himself and his people to the reservations. Custer’s Last Stand precluded the Indian’s “last stand”.

What Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Custer or even Wyatt Earp of Tombstone, cowboy Billy-the-Kid, outlaw and train robber Jesse James didn’t realise was their fate was entwined to the extraordinary times they were living in. It was beyond their control and they were swept by the undercurrent that was pushing America to a new era of Frontier and growth.

The Frontier had beckoned and will serve only those with the spirit of adventure, filled with opportunities to climb the social ladders of its time, time for new riches in gold and silver and the lure of "boom town" where all is possible.

Many who made a name for themselves, were tireless trying again and again, filled with the pioneering spirit and a sureness that the next gig is the big one. It is precisely this culture of the grit, living out a hard and difficult life with the view of a better life which brought out the innovation, visions and ambitions in the America, then and today.

Some of the famous and infamous personality from the Frontier who decided to pursue their version of success and to etch their name forever into the history books started just with a modest vision of what they want , or what they see as injustice or overcoming the situation they were in.

Wyatt Earp - he was a bouncer in a brothel ,worked the railway line, miner, buffalo hunter and more before he chose to be a Law Man marching down to the OK Coral for a showdown with his brothers Virgil & Morgan Earp and his good friend John "Doc" Holiday. He found what he was good at and became a fearsome lawman of Tombstone. The people of Tombstone saw his strength to help keep the peace.

Billy-the-Kid - a mere teenager from New York who grew up without a father, first became a cattle hustler to then worked for the man he stole from English businessman and rancher, John Henry Tunstall. Tunstall not only took Billy in but also became his his mentor and the father figure that he never had. The murder of his mentor by business rival colluding with the local law enforcers , set his vision for justice to be served. He inspired a gang to follow him as they seek justice for his dead mentor.

Jesse James - the unbowed and undefeated Confederate soldier who refused to surrender turned train robber as a political statement to the Union army of the North. Until today, those in the 'Deep South" still revere Jesse James for standing up for their believes. The South indefatigable was said to have been kept alive by Jesse James!

Today, to be a startup founder, the ideas are not the main deciding factor anymore but you as a founder is. We are living in extraordinary times where governments are supporting startups, technology is thriving in the speed unknown to humans and the culture of startup is hero worshipped.

Ideas are cheap and a plenty now. Almost any idea that you can think of, I can probably Google someone who is doing it already. Thus, the deciding factor would be your grit in your execution just like the pioneers of the frontier.


Photo credit: Jon McNaughton

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