The J Curve myth – By Aravind G.R

How long did it take the ‘Technology Empires’ to build their empires (from scratch)?

While the ‘J curve’ (or hockey stick in Indian parlance) is the norm in almost every business plan that an early/growth stage company makes (and we are often guilty of being perpetrators of the J Curve biz plan). It would be a revelation to see what the actual growth curves were for the tech empires (read: blockbusters of today, er, well, yesterday also).

The table in this blog splits the top 100 tech companies into Rocket Ships, Hot Companies and Slow burners based on their ‘rate of growth’. Interesting to see that the’ Rocket Ships’ took an average of 5.3 years to reach the magic mark of $50 million in revenue.

(Granted, this list doesn’t include the more recent ‘Lightspeeders’ (I couldn’t think of things faster than rocket ships) like Groupon, Facebook, Zynga et all who are claimed to have reached the magic marks in a matter of months if not years. These companies actually ‘J curved’ really fast! But, you can count these Lightspeeders with the fingers in just one hand.)

So with the exception of a tiny number of Lightspeeders, practically, the fastest companies take 5-6 years to reach a certain respectable revenue stage (note: this doesn’t mean an exit opportunity for VC’s). The duration is much more stretched in a country like India, where it takes longer than the US norm for start up’s to reach a certain scale. Investors need to factor that into their investment thesis for India.



About Deepak
Venture Capital and M&A advisor, Entrepreneur, Startup enthusiast..

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