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Nokia is a startup  

Following up on the four types of entrepreneurial contexts discussed yesterday, Nokia's situation is an interesting example of a context that falls outside these four categories. Nokia is a large company, but they are in a startup situation. Says the Nokia CEO:

We too, are standing on a "burning platform," and we must decide how we are going to change our behaviour.

In today's phone market, Apple owns the high-end, Android is quickly devouring the mid-end and is driving towards the low-end, and assorted Chinese OEMs are chewing at the low end. Nokia is in a situation where its previously very successful niche is going to vanish in the next few years, and if it doesn't find something new to squeeze vast amounts of money from, its burnt out husk will be acquired by a Chinese OEM before long.

And the truly perplexing aspect is that we're not even fighting with the right weapons. We are still too often trying to approach each price range on a device-to-device basis.


The burning platform, upon which the man found himself, caused the man to shift his behaviour, and take a bold and brave step into an uncertain future. He was able to tell his story. Now, we have a great opportunity to do the same.

That's what a startup is, effectively. A burning platform, from which you might be able to leap to greatness. Nokia's greatness is behind it, for now, but it has quite a few billion dollars of runway to figure out how to build a new platform. The really interesting questions is, can a company the size of Nokia (132,000 employees!) pivot fast enough, even with billions of dollars at hand?

After all, as Eric Ries puts it, it's not cash that matters, but the number of iterations the company has left. How many iterations can Nokia execute before its €40 billion of runway runs out?

More from the library:
Three traffic triage questions
Bait and switch acquisition offers
The obvious, the easy and the possible