Brief Notes

Heimlich Rule of Pi


      Heimlich Law works with many startups from the bootstrap approach to the VC and friends and family funded, as well as social media funded.
I have personally, in a prior life before becoming a patent attorney, been involved as an engineer (hardware, software, etc.) in working in startups and starting my own companies.
My role in startups now is more legal related issues (patent, IP, licensing, etc.) and management/business consultant.
Having been on both sides of the fence has afforded me a unique perspective of the thrills, headaches, highs and lows of starting a company and shutting it down and occasionally see it become successful. 

Quick Discussion

       If there is one piece of advice I had to impart to those brave souls doing a startup – it would be what I call the Heimlich Rule of Pi.  If you are an engineer then use Pi (3.14159…) if you are not an engineer then use the number 3.

Here’s the Heimlich Rule of Pi – multiply or divide by Pi as appropriate.
For example if you think that development will take 6 months – multiply it by Pi.
If you think that it will only cost $X to produce then multiply it by Pi.
If you think your market share will be Y% then divide by Pi.
If you think your sales will be $Z then divide by Pi.
Do this for all your projections.

Now here’s the part where you must not fudge. IF you can live within the boundaries of the above Pi limitations – then go for it. IF you cannot live within the above Pi limitations – then DO NOT DO THE STARTUP.

Trust me – this is like an immutable law of the planet.

I cannot tell you how many times people involved in startups have come to me after 6 months or a year or more after I explained the Heimlich Rule of Pi and asked “How did you know? That’s exactly what happened!”


I hope you are successful in your venture. Let us know how we can assist. Please believe me when I say the Heimlich Rule of Pi works.

Alan Heimlich

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