, Startups
22 April 2016

The Startup Ecosystems of Westeros

Given how medieval startups can be, its easy to identify common traits of many startups in the Houses that the lords and ladies of Westeros in Game of Thrones run. Each of these houses needs to leverage the talents on their team and the limited resources they have in order to secure the Iron Throne, taking massive, life-threatening risks in the process.
Heres what types of startups we think the houses and characters of Game of Thrones represent:
House Stark: Winter is Coming
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The principal house of the Northern Lands hold a steadfast devotion to duty, Ned Stark does his best to do right by his family and bannermen. Stark startups generally try to minimize their involvement with other ecosystems, opting instead to build companies that serve the immediate needs of their communities.
Unique about Ned Stark, as a founder, is that hes more than willing to get in the weeds and do some of the grunt work involved in building a company. Whether it be building code or creating a newsletter, Ned Stark is a very involved CEO and Founder. Employees are loyal to their liege lord CEO and would go to great lengths to reach their shared vision. Even though House Stark may operate on a frustratingly slow pace which can be taken advantage of by other companies thanks to the myriad stakeholders that need to be satisfied, Stark startups are built to last.
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House Lannister has long engaged in a game of fierce coopetition with House Baratheon, but theyve just been biding their time to make a huge splash in their industry. With clever intrigue and the huge resources theyve amassed from working in the background for so long, theyve slowly been drawing attention and momentum away from House Baratheon.
Tywin Lannister is a demanding and precise founder who has everything to prove. He doesnt tolerate incompetence or failure, and he only works with the best. Due to the ambition of his skilled employees, the halls of Casterly Rock echo with the voices of competing ideas. Even though the lavish offices of Lannister start

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ups have suspiciously high employee turnover rates, the talent they acquire still remains the best of the best.
House Baratheon: Ours is The Fury
House Baratheon has been around for a long time. Theyre a veritable tech giant who hacked their way to success during the first tech boom and now they hold an almost monopolistic chokehold in the industry they occupy. However, with the recent passing of their founder, Robert Baratheon, Renly and Stannis are now engaged in a battle over the future of their company, especially since the board voted to install the incredibly inexperienced Joffrey as CEO.
While Stannis has been in the game for years gifting him with a good sense of what it takes to build a startup and make compelling pitches to potential investors, he just cant seem to recruit a compelling team. Meanwhile -- Renly is an inspiring figure who has an eye for diversity, but he has a bad habit of spending too much money and is unwilling to make enemies in order to move his ideas forward. Baratheon startups have stuck around for a reason, but is their tech timeless enough to continue to squash the competition and maintain dominance?
House Greyjoy: We Do Not Sow
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Marred by multiple failures, House Greyjoy startups dont exactly inspire confidence in investors. Although they lack a good track record, they more than make up for in the ideas they generate. Greyjoy startups operate on the fringes innovation, often being the first one to build around emergent trends only to be crushed by nebulous regulations that made it difficult to scale.
Balon Greyjoy is devoted to turning this ship around and returning Greyjoy to the glory they enjoyed during the pirate phase of entrepreneurship where there was little in the way of regulation that prevented them from hacking their way to the top.House Greyjoy has a captured a niche market of loyal iron-born and seem content to chip away at the fringes of competitors. Perhaps a founder with an eye for a bigger future could right the ship.
House Tyrell: Growing StrongNXrjn9PSOUooOyRxa5HAhj_qWYaDeaNDcdUBaluGjoTLOsv4G41QN4cP3xrQV8aynBU9xRLwvF9C6nfIGF3F-8985Y-VJDlpnw3ZlYdYb_7a8m05DPIZEg3ajrFm5_2_p8-wkBsI
Seated in verdant Highgarden, the startups of House Tyrell are always promising thanks to the resource-rich ecosystem of the Reach that has yet to be fully realized. Incredibly chivalrous, those that work with House Tyrell are noted for their collaborate-first approach to their work. As a founder and CEO, Mace Tyrell seems somewhat lacking.
Still coasting on the success of his first startup, Mace finds it difficult to adapt to the unknowns of the new era -- something thats not a secret to his team. House Lannister has begun several aggressive conversations to poach some top Tyrell talent so the question is: can Mace maintain his boards confidence long enough to eventually take advantage of the Highgarden tech bloom?
House Martell: Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken
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In the blasted deserts of Sunspear, Martell startups know what it means to bootstrap a company with limited to not resources. Still, bootstrapping can only take you so far and many entrepreneurs from House Martell are looking to the resource-rich north.
Unfortunately, their founder, Doran Martell, is still scarred by the fallout of the dotcom bubble and he is very wary about the much whispered tech bubble. Frustrated with his brother and co-founders nebbish attitude, Oberyn has departed north to forge partnerships with the northern Houses.
Although Martell startups under Doran can be seen as incredibly risk-averse, they can also be expected to deliver massive value in the form of the talent thats forged under the massive pressure of the Sunspear ecosystem.
House Targaryen: Fire and Blood
The Targaryen brand was build on undeniably revolutionary technology: Dragons. Dragons created a new market and the Targaryens owned it. However, since the the patent on the dragon went extinct, House Targaryen was best known for inbred CEOs who fired most of the dying company's top talent.
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Daenerys is mother to classic Targaryen tech but has a greater vision for social impact than any of the past CEOs. Her social mission has attracted tremendous talent, like Barristan Selmy and Jorah Mormont, but made some investors wary.
What kind of startups deserve the Iron Throne? What House is your startup? Were excited to find out!

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