How to Start a Startup: On Ideas & Products
4 Main Areas of a Startup: #
You should only start a startup if you feel compelled by a problem and you think that starting a startup is the best way to solve it.
Passion is first. Startup is second.
On starting with great ideas: #
- A bad idea is still a bad idea. Great execution towards a bad idea will get you nowhere. Most great companies start with a great idea, not a pivot.
- Work on the idea that you think about often and you actually love.
- The company should feel like an important mission.
- If you don’t love what you’re building, you’ll likely give up some point along the way. Belief cures the pain of startups.
- One of the most counterintuitive things in starting a startup: It’s easier to start a hard startup than an easy startup. How? The best ideas are in the intersection of what seems like a good idea and what seems like a bad idea. (eg. Google, AirBnb, Facebook, etc.). If it didn’t seem like a bad idea, many would already be working on them. The truly good ideas don’t sound like they’re worth stealing.
On the market: #
- You want to start in a small market that you can then monopolize. (Note: Echoes Peter Thiel’s CS183)
- You need a market that will grow in 10 years (thus, growth rate of market is more important than current market size). It’s important to think about the market because you can change everything in a startup (idea, product, team, execution) BUT you cannot change the market.
- “Why now?” — Sequoia
On keeping it simple: #
- Startups are almost always very easy to explain and understand. It should be a clearly articulated vision using a small number of words. If you need more than a sentence, it’s probably too complicated.
On building something people love: #
- “Product” means anything that a customer interacts with.
- Great Idea → Great Product → Great Company. Until you build a great product, NOTHING else matters.
- In a startup you should be doing one of the following: Build product, talk to customers, exercise, eat, and sleep.
- Build something users love. Start with a small number of users. If you build something people love, they’ll tell their friends. If your product doesn’t have organic growth via word of mouth, then your product probably isn’t good enough yet.
- Great products win. Don’t worry about competitors, investors, etc. Build great product.
- Start with something simple. Why? It forces you to do one thing extremely well, and you have to do that to make something people love.
- Be fanatical. It takes a level of fanaticism to build a great product.
On users: #
- Early on, you don’t need many users. You just need a few that will give you feedback everyday and who will eventually love your product.
- Get users manually. The goal is to get them to love you, nothing else. Understand them really well, get close to them, listen to them, and they will be very willing to give you feedback. They’ll be your strongest advocates to get more users.
- Show it to users → User feedback → Product decisions → Repeat. Make this feedback loop tight, short, and fast and you will build a product people love in no time.
On growth: #
- Depending on your product, the metrics for growth vary. They can be: Total registrations, Active users, Activity levels, Cohort retention, Revenue, Net promoter score, etc.
- Startups LIVE on growth. It’s the single indicator of a great product.