Lessons for Startups From Lady Gaga


I’m home for the Holiday and we have been driving a fair amount visiting family. As a result I have been listening to the radio, specifically a ton of Lady Gaga. Both of my sisters are big fans.

I started researching the Gaga phenomenon and have been utterly amazed at both the rapid rise and business acumen of the Lady. Even Mayor Bloomberg is a fan! One thing that is not so obvious on the surface of her current antics and stardom is that she certainly put in her 10,000 hours.

Victor Niederhoffer has a great post on Daily Speculations titled, Lady Gaga: 10 Things We Can Learn and he calls out Gaga’s technical perfection which can sometimes be lost in all the pomp and hype of her performances.

While Lady Gaga has now sold 4 million albums and 20+million singles in 2005 she was just a lowly NYU Student.

Here’s a spectacular piano performance she gave while attending New York University – you can see she put in the time.

Here are a few things startups can take away from Gaga’s success:

1) Start with 1000 true fans – If you have read Kevin Kelly’s thoughts, it won’t surprise you that Lady Gaga has gone on record numerous times attributing her success specifically to an early community of devoted gay fans.

2) Be Perfect Technically Before Taking Liberties – Lady Gaga is no Milli Vanilli. She is a seriously talented technical singer and can write her own tracks. She is both a maker AND a manager.

3) Brand Matters – Changing her name from Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta to Lady Gaga allowed her to create a tremendous brand. Was Lady Gaga a Googlewhack? I bet it was.

As an aside, “Gaga” is two syllables: Luke Nosek once told me that Founders Fund only invests in companies with two-syllable names.


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