Apparently Bad Startup Idea: A Hole With Bread Around It


The San Francisco bagel famine broke for a short time in 2011, when four former Dartmouth students started an outfit called Schmendricks. (The name means ‘‘stupid person’’ in Yiddish.) They decided to follow tech start-up protocol — ‘‘to A/B test our way to a perfect bagel,’’ says Dan Scholnick, one of the schmendricks who not at all stupidly kept his day job as a venture capitalist. By November 2011 they had a product ready to take to beta. So Schmendricks posted an announcement on Facebook and Twitter and placed a sign in front of Faye’s Video and Espresso Bar, across the street from Bi-Rite Market, a sort of Dean & DeLuca of San Francisco. Then, on the appointed morning, they showed up with four dozen bagels — and found a line stretching down the block. The bagel columnist for J., a Northern California Jewish weekly, described the product as “everything you could ever want.” But the glory didn’t last. Before Schmendricks opened a storefront, its bagel disappeared. “We were never going to grow the way a top-tier tech company is going to grow,” Scholnick told me, stating the obvious.

The fact that the perfect New York bagel is a mythical object notwithstanding, this is a great point: Why do anything at all that will never “grow the way a top-tier tech company is going to grow”? If your company is not growing, and its growth is not accelerating, then you are dying, and the hockey stick of death favors no man, which is all to say that you are already dead because you have choked to death on terrible bagels.

Photo by blinq