Myth-busting in startup culture

There’s a myth in startup communities that securing success involves thinking up an innovative idea, writing a slick business plan, presenting to VCs and then collecting the cash. And if that doesn’t go your way, then it’s game over. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

  • 75% -The research says that more than three in four firms attracting VC investments don’t repay the capital that goes into them.
  • 82% – According to a study by U.S. Bank, 82% of business failures are due to poor cash management.
  • 70% – According to the OECD, small to medium-sized enterprises typically contribute 50% or more to GDP and create 70% of new employment opportunities.

Startup truth serum

Here’s the truth. Most successful businesses never took investments from VCs or angel investors, and even fewer did so in the early stages. They grew by choosing the right business model and offering a product or service that brought enough cash flow to cover operations and early-stage growth.

It’s the customer-funded business model. It’s not new, it’s just under-represented in today’s
startup culture. This programme updates the startup narrative.

Who attends

The entrepreneurial spirit can kick in at any time in your career. Even members of established companies can benefit from learning the business models that seek to displace them.

Here’s a look at who attends Startup Success:

Participants include:

  • Aspiring and existing entrepreneurs or change-makers
  • Business founders looking to grow and scale ventures while maintaining equity
  • Corporate professionals responsible for internal growth and innovation
  • Individuals looking to launch a business and understand which models are most applicable for different situations
  • Professionals seeking to understand the models disrupting traditional businesses and how to compete with them

Key takeaways

  • Learn five proven business models to preserve your equity – and the chance to win $5K cash in the ‘Business Model Contest’, a way to apply the key concepts from the programme
  • Understand how to apply the models in a variety of startup scenarios
  • Experience a highly interactive learning environment – discuss these models in the online ‘Startup Café’ sessions and engage in hands-on learning in the ‘John Mullins Live’ chats
  • Contribute to discussion boards moderated by the learning facilitator
  • Build credibility as a founder by showing your certificate of completion


Take the first step to a Global Education

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  • Starts on

    April 29, 2020

  • Duration

    2 Months, Online

    (4-6 hours per week)
  • Course Fees

    US$ 1,950*

Program Video

Curriculum & Faculty

What you’ll learn

Turn customers into cash flow. Learn how to put consumers at the centre of your strategy through the lens of five different business models. Whilst exploring a variety of situations, we’ll ask:


  • What are the six economic elements that affect subscription models like Amazon?
  • How can we align our ideal price point for wine with a network of buyers and sellers that optimises revenue?
  • How do we identify and deliver customer value in SaaS models?
  • How can we get customers to pay in advance, then use that growth capital as a funding source?
  • How can we manage through a downturn?
  • With limited resources, how should we balance the needs of getting to know the customer with developing a great product?

Contest details

The participant with the best customer-fundable opportunity will receive a $5K cash prize and a one-hour, individual consultation with Professor Mullins. In addition, the participant with the best analysis of an opportunity judged not feasible will also receive an individual, hour-long consultation with Professor Mullins as it is just as important for entrepreneurs to determine when an idea won’t work.



Learn and apply tools for exploring market uncertainties, and evaluate whether or not to seek VC.
Understand strategies for balancing supply and demand in matchmaker markets, and assess the potential challenges and opportunities faced by various matchmaker companies.
Learn and apply tools for developing relationships with early customers and managing cash flow using a pay-in-advance model.
Evaluate the merits and drawbacks of various subscription models across industries and understand strategies for maximising ROI from new customers.
Assess customer-funded scarcity models that maximise cash flow and the conditions in which those models will most likely work.
Learn how to convert a not-so-scalable service business into a highly scalable product business.
Assess the viability of your business idea and select a customer-funded model.
How to implement the various customer-funding models and a debrief with Professor Mullins on the final assignment and Q&A.

Business models discussed

  • Matchmaker (Airbnb, eBay)
  • Pay-in-advance (Pobble: Social enterprise to improve children’s literacy, Funovation: Entertainment, The Loot: Failure story from India)
  • Subscription (Amazon Prime, Naked Wines)
  • Scarcity (Zara: Fast fashion, Ryzex: Used equipment)
  • Service-to-product (Go Viral: Video advertising)


John Mullins
John Mullins

Associate Professor of Management Practice in Marketing and Entrepreneurship

An award-winning teacher and scholar, and one of the world’s foremost thought leaders in entrepreneurship, Professor John Mullins brings to his teaching and research 20 years of executive experience in high-growth retail firms, including two ventures he founded and one he took public.

Learning Experience


Upon successful completion of the programme, you’ll earn a digital certificate of completion from London Business School.

Certificate Click to view certificate

All certificate images are for illustrative purposes only and may be subject to change at the discretion of LBS.

Participant Profile

Participant Speak

Federico Barcos Von Der Heide (Argentinian)

CEO, Von Der Heide
Startup Success: Five Proven Business Models

This programme has the potential to transform the way you think, plan and create a new venture, or in my case, to reinvent a mature business.

Nuno Miguel Ladeiro Veigas (Portuguese)

Structuring & Products VP, Banco ITAÚ BBA
Startup Success: Five Proven Business Models

For aspiring entrepreneurs like me, a great feature is that you get direct access to a startup expert, John Mullins. The interactive nature is what I appreciated most.

Inna Orlova (Russian)

Chairman of the Board, KYPWELL Corp Ltd
Startup Success: Five Proven Business Models

Whether you are an experienced founder with an active business or just preparing, you will learn how to assess an opportunity and fund it using customers’ cash. Be prepared to give it your all – this is engaged learning at its best.