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Unit Economics

Bricklayers or Cathedral Builders

I really love what KPMG did here with resetting their culture around purpose.


It fits what I've found so critical in the success of startups. It starts with the founder, which sets the culture.

  • Is the founder a "bricklayer or cathedral builder"?
  • Does the founder surround themselves with fellow cathedral builders?

Cathedral builders have no choice but to have the project succeed. Bricklayers can always quit and go do another project. If the founder has a good preseed coach, the number one reason why startups fail is because the founder quits. Cathedral builders don't quit.

It is why I'm so enjoying coaching founders of startups with a strong mission. The big struggles of families and planet result in big markets to serve, and mission startups tend to be started by founders with purpose who attract teams who are mission driven. Cathedral builders not bricklayers...


12 months ago

Chief Sustainability Officer @ Renaissance Park Corp

In my experience, it's very rare, @Tim Connors to find investors with the faith and patience to truly support a Cathedral Builder. I honor your voice in this subject because you appear to be one such elusive catch.

Jeremy Burton core team
over 1 year ago

CEO | Founder | Managing Partner @ Platform Venture Studio

Agree with the sentiment 100% - it's a question of commitment vs dabbling - but it's funny how different terms have different connotations in different contexts. The original "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cathedral_and_the_Bazaar) deems cathedral building the anti-pattern.

If we think of Platform as "Github for Building Startups", I think it shows that this model is not in conflict - the Founder is building a cathedral and has to maintain the vision and long-term commitment to do so, but the bricklayers assembling the cathedral benefit from all the shared learnings, repeatable patterns, etc.