in Startups

Hunting Elephants

Recent news of the GoDaddy Elephant Hunt (warning graphic video) offers two lessons for startups. The first is obvious, as CEO your personal brand is inescapably linked to your company. The second is perhaps somewhat less obvious in the cloud of outrage… YOU SHOULD BE HUNTING ELEPHANTS.

Allow me to explain:

1. No one will care if you go on a mosquito hunt. If your startup is pursuing a tiny market, no one will notice, no one will invest, and no one will join the hunt.

2. The elephant hunt will feed a village. Even if your startup is successful, if the market is minuscule you have failed.

3. An elephant is easier to see than a mosquito. Finding customers for your startup is half the battle.

4. Elephant hunts are more dangerous. There is nothing quite like the thrill of competing in a dynamic market.

5. You will love telling the story about the elephant stampede through camp. Even if you don’t end up revolutionizing a market, you’ll learn an industry and build a strong network.

Are you hunting elephants?


In case you missed the point entirely, this post was about markets not mammals. Species and habitats are essential to a healthy planet. Please don’t go around shooting elephants with artillery for sport, there is nothing sportsmanlike about it. Instead consider making a donation to the World Wildlife Fund and become a partner in conservation.

  1. I probably mixed metaphors… what I meant by Elephant was Market Size. Mark made some great points, but he was talking Customer Size. The M in SME is the tastiest target for startups, Mmmmm.

  2. What about @guykawasaki’s mantra “Eat like a bird, poop like an elephant.”

    As paraphrased by Garr Reynolds

    ” In other words, (1) get out there, meet people, press the flesh, consume knowledge like crazy, attend seminars, etc. (birds eat a lot!). And (2) spread the knowledge, information, and contacts that you gained around, share of your time and talent (elephants are good at…well you know).

  3. It often takes as much effort to engage a large or small organization so you might as well target the large organization. Besides the typical revenue advantage for closing the account it is often easier to reference the large account and that should help to open doors into other opportunities.

  4. Interesting analogy. Separate point – I like GoDaddy because it’s cheap and easy, but I can’t stand the founder.

  5. nice conversayion) i enjoyed reading it))) thanks) and good article) interesting-so big thanks to the author!

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