Startup success — Luck or Skill?

Sebastian Roth
5 min readMar 14, 2023

When we see successful people around us, it’s easy to attribute their achievements to luck. We often hear people say, “I can’t become like others. The others were lucky.” However, success is not always a result of pure luck. In reality, success in business and life is determined by a combination of both luck and skill. There are many types of luck that play a role in our lives, and it’s important to understand them to see how much of our success is truly based on luck versus skill.

Different types of luck

Blind luck is the most obvious form of luck. It’s the kind that happens without any action or intention on our part. For example, winning the lottery or being born into a wealthy family. While blind luck can certainly contribute to success, it’s not a reliable or sustainable way to achieve it.

These forms of luck are completely out of our control, such as our family, gender, age, or even the school we attend. Various factors can significantly influence our opportunities and chances for success, but it’s important to acknowledge that these things don’t define us or limit our potential.

Sometimes, luck happens when an unlikely event occurs. For example, when a product or idea suddenly becomes popular due to unforeseen circumstances or trends. While this type of luck is unpredictable, it can also be influenced by hard work and dedication. Working on something that you believe in, especially if it’s made possible by emerging technology, increases your chances of success.

Create opportunities to be luckier

That’s how luck can be achieved by creating opportunities to be luckier. This happens when you take action and put yourself in situations where luck is more likely to happen. Create your luck by attending networking events, learning new skills, pitching your idea or taking risks. This type of luck is often a result of hard work and perseverance, rather than just chance. While there may be some luck involved in the process, it’s primarily driven by skill and dedication. For example, if you want to start a successful business, you can research the market, develop a unique product or service, and build a team of experts to execute your plan. Similarly, receiving financial backing for a startup idea can be attributed to financial luck, as well as the lucky event of pitching your idea in front of an investor you happened to meet by chance at a bar.

Moreover, the more you push an idea, the more likely you are to be lucky. These factors all contribute to creating an environment where luck is more likely to happen. By putting in the effort and taking risks, you increase your chances of success, even if it means facing failure along the way.

A lucky entrepreneur

Chad Mureta is one example of an entrepreneur who created his own luck and built a successful app business. At the age of 27 in 2009, Chad Mureta was involved in a serious car accident that left him hospitalized for months. While recovering, he started researching how to make money through mobile apps and eventually developed an app called “Fingerprint Security Pro” priced at 99 cents that allowed users to unlock their iPhones using their fingerprints.

Chad had no prior experience in app development or programming, but he was determined to learn and finally released his app on the App Store. The app was an instant success, generating over $500,000 in revenue within the first few months of its release. He later founded his own app development company called App Empire, that has generated over $3m in revenue per year and has helped countless entrepreneurs develop and launch successful apps. Despite facing significant obstacles, he persevered and built a successful business that has had a positive impact on many people’s lives.

I had a “must” sitting in a hospital bed that my life has to be different than the way I was leading it, and I stepped up and tried something new. And that’s — I think that’s that decision, like you said — your app, yes or no, should I be in the app business? Flip the coin. Most people should and the answer would be yes.
- Chad Muret in 60 Minutes

Luck and Skill

In some cases, luck and skill can interact with each other. For instance, educational luck refers to the opportunities and experiences that individuals have access to based on their level of education. Having a college degree or higher education can increase the likelihood of landing a high-paying job, which can be attributed to educational luck. However, the skills learned during the course of education are also crucial for excelling in these jobs.

Timing is also a significant factor in luck and skill. Being at the right place at the right time can sometimes be the difference between success and failure. For instance, the success of many startups is often attributed to being in the right place at the right time with the right product.

While blind luck can undoubtedly play a role in success, it is more likely that luck is created due to skill rather than random chance. When individuals possess specific skills, they are better equipped to recognize and capitalize on opportunities that may present themselves. While it is certainly possible to be lucky without possessing these skills, the odds of success are much greater when individuals are proactive and take steps to create their luck.

Luck and skill are both important in achieving success in business and life. While luck can play a role, it’s not always the determining factor. By developing skills, taking action, and creating opportunities for luck to happen, you can increase your chances of success.

You don’t want to have to be lucky to be successful!



Sebastian Roth

Exploring the intersection of App Development, UX and Data Analytics. Is product success attributed to luck or skill?