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The 3 Biggest Misconceptions About Startup Life

February 14, 2017, 8:02 PM UTC

The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question, “What are some of the biggest misconceptions about startup life?” is written by Peter Arvai, co-founder and CEO of Prezi.

Startups are scrappy. People work long hours, cling to a dream they genuinely believe in, and take risks in the hopes of creating something truly revolutionary. On one hand, this is how many startups can be described. On the other hand, there are countless misconceptions about startup life. Below are three myths I’ve found to be the most common:

Startups come from Silicon Valley
People watch the television show Silicon Valley and think that’s where all startups come from. But in reality, major U.S. cities like Boston and Austin are becoming their own startup hubs. And my co-founders and I started Prezi in Budapest in 2008. While we also opened an office in San Francisco (like many other companies), our Budapest office is a true melting pot of cultures—our team represents more than 27 countries.

Startup life is like being in a fraternity
The typical startup environment is often portrayed as a fraternity, where people compete with each other and party hard. Old-time San Franciscans are actually acutely aware and cautious of extroverted brogrammers. But for those who seek alternatives, there are plenty. While partying and extroversion are the norm in some startups, most companies need a variety of roles within the company and different personalities that fit those roles. Some need to be around others to thrive (extroverts) while others need to be alone so they can focus and get their work done (introverts). Some startups consist of drinking and high-fiving. Others, like Prezi, have quiet rooms and meditation rooms—small areas to provide brain space—and even more have a mix of both.

You get started with venture capital
Smart founders diversify their funding options. Once you have an idea, you may think you need an elevator pitch and a venture capitalist to get funding. In reality, widening your horizon—outside of the usual suspects—might be even better for your business.


When searching for early investors for Prezi, I flew from Budapest to New York to meet with TED curator Chris Anderson. That meeting, which was originally only supposed to be a partnership conversation, turned into a 20-minute investor presentation, and resulted in successfully receiving funding from TED. This was a proud achievement for the team at Prezi, since we love TED, and this was its first major investment in a company.

The most important thing you can ask from your investors is to understand your business and share your vision.

Based on these misconceptions, I urge you to question headlines you read or shows you see about startups. Instead, seek out the culture that is suited best for your personality, interests, and career goals.