Wild Digital 2019: Patrick Grove’s familiar P’s for ‘preneurs

  • Reminds attendees that it takes years before becoming a success
  • Success in entrepreneurship is a fringe benefit


Wild Digital 2019: Patrick Grove’s familiar P’s for ‘preneurs


COMMENTARY: WHEN Patrick Grove talks, people listen. Which is exactly what happened when the Catcha Group CEO gave the opening keynote speech at the recent Wild Digital 2019 even in Kuala Lumpur.

I just really wish he had something new to say.

To be fair though, Grove himself warned the standing-room only crowd that he would be repeating a talk he given four years ago at the same conference. 

"So much is still relevant," he enthused. That itself was unusual, given the mantra that the only constant in the fast-paced highly-dynamic world of tech entrepreneurship is change itself.

So, anything that can stand the test of time is probably as close as possible to an eternal truth, which might be the way to the holy grail of becoming a billion dollar unicorn or, depending on how you count it, two and a half Patrick Groves.

Grove reminded the audience of the club’s exclusivity. The 362 unicorn companies combined are valued at over a trillion dollars, and took an average of six and a half years to reach that target. Success in entrepreneurship is a fringe benefit: Given 10,000 companies, eventually only 15 of them end up being worth 85% of the total value. It's like some perverse hyper-refined version of the Pareto Law.

How do you get to be one of these special few? Grove summarised it as the five P's: Problem, Passion, People, Pivot and Perseverance.

Given that this was a repeat of what he had presented before, Grove could have refined his message, and illustrated it with his personal experiences with Catcha over the last two decades. He could have, but he didn't.

Instead we got a summary of Startups for Dummies. Solve a real-world Problem, even if it's something nobody realises is one. Passion can compensate for an imperfect business plan. A-grade People can do more with a B-grade business plan. If what you've released is all right and you don't have to pivot, then you've probably released it too late. And without Perseverance, you won't get anywhere.

As elementary as these ideas might be to entrepreneurs, the audience lapped it all up. The audience of risk-takers and addicted workaholics who all want to believe that they have What It Takes (tm) to make it to the top.

They want to hear that iProperty was rejected 711 times before ultimately becoming a success. That Catcha took eight years pivoting from project to project before it finally landed with iProperty.

Because the audience themselves understand what it means to be rejected, and what it means to keep catching up with what is relevant.

In fact, perhaps the lesson that Grove's opening keynote could have conveyed is that there is more that entrepreneurs have in common than differentiates them. That the tenets of education, talent, experience and hard work – principles of success for almost any endeavour - are all encapsulated the quadruplet of Passion, People, Pivot and Perseverance. That events like Wild Digital are great opportunities to interact and network with like-minded people. That the presentations and talks are not case-studies of what works, but examples of what it means to not give up.

Truth is, most consultants could have produced another five P's after an afternoon’s brainstorming and it still would have made sense (How about Persuasion, Preparation, Peers, Pursue your customers, and Pick your battles?).

But Grove has the background of his success which makes him listenable. It’s okay that he’s repeating the same message again, if only because it's something people want to hear. Still, I just wished he had given us more. 


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