When i was in the 2nd year of my engineering school, I started a start-up, an e-commerce platform, something between Amazon Market place and ebay, the startup was a result of 2 years of hard work and thinking, we had a great start but eventually we failed, I failed. To break this down and learn from my mistakes here is a quick autopsy inspired by Brett Martin’s article.
- Listening to your users: “I would use your product if only you had X feature” first of all, you have to distinguish between noise and signals, noise is made by the people that are willing to use your product unless you add X features, and the signals are the actual interaction of your users with your product. Let’s take an example of 2 FPS games, Call of Duty and Battlefield, people always keep complaining about Call of duty that is the same game each released but they keep buying it , If you see what Battlefield did with the 4 version, they changed every thing in the game , because of this change people stopped playing the game (I myself did sopped). They were eager to please, so they rushed the product and failed !
- Growth vs. Engagement: Growth is the only thing that matters if you are building a social network. Period. Engagement is great but you aren’t even going to get the meeting unless your top-line numbers reach a certain threshold (which is different for seed vs. series A vs. selling advertising).
- Competetion: Be steady at the wheel. The only way one startup can kill another startup is by getting into the other’s head and leading them off a cliff.
If you don’t believe me, try this proof. Are your competitors releasing a bunch of the same features that you have on your roadmap? Yes? Do you know what consumers want*? No? Great, then neither do your competitors. Get back to figuring out what users want! The said truth is that i was doing this all the time, always thinking about things other competitors have and i don’t !
*Hint: If you did, you would already have traction.
- Selling the company: Companies don’t get sold, they get bought. The best way to get bought is to build something of value. That’s hard to do when you are trying to sell.
- It’s All About People: “The essence of competitiveness is liberated when we make people believe that what they think and do is important – and then get out of their way while they do it.” — Jack Welch.In the beginning, established people probably won’t work with you. Prove yourself by finding diamonds in the rough, like yourself. With their help, you can level up your organization and convince the big fish to join.
- Culture is your cofounder: Think of culture as a cofounder that is present when you are not. You are decisive, communicative, and respectful but it’s your culture that helps everyone know how to act when you are out of the room. Give that voice clarity and authority.
The trick is to avoid hollow words. Since a startup’s culture ultimately mirrors that of its founder, maybe the best thing that you can do is work hard to get clear on who you are. Write that down and share it with your team. If you’ve been honest, every action you take will reinforce your values.