Don't Launch Your Product →
I think there are ways to do a launch correctly, but overall I agree that organic growth is far far far better than a buzzy launch.
Having been through multiple launches, seen companies launch at big conferences, and talked with many startups that have experienced the same effect, what I recommend – and what we’re doing at Origami - is not launching at all. Take the word launch out of your vocabulary – it’s a sign that you are gambling on your app and not building a long-term, sustainable company. Instead, put your sign-up page up or your app out because you need more feedback on your idea. Find an audience of passionate users, even if small, and reach out to their community through appropriate means. Try SEM and Facebook ads to find a target market. Experiment with business models and onboarding flows. Let the press come to you because they love what you’ve made.
How did Instagram get its name »
A long week of searching for something that combined the ‘right here right now’ aspect of what we were trying to accomplish with the idea of recording something in your life (hence the suffix -gram). […] Another characteristic was whether or not you could tell someone the name and they could spell it easily.
Twitter co-founders create fake meat with real protein »
Start-up “Beyond Meat” wants to replace animal protein with plant protein to create nutritional value at a lower cost. […] Beyond Meat is adding the perfect texture to fake chicken and its tastes so much like the real thing you wouldn’t even know the difference. The startup is backed by the Obvious Corporation, which just so happens to be founded by Twitter co-founders, Biz Stone and Evan Williams and former Twitter VP of Product, Jason Goldman. Venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers also have an invested interest in the startup.
Start something →
One can’t truly fathom how difficult it is to start something solid from nothing more than a few ideas, and probably with a shoestring budget. Especially in the beginning.
The beauty of founding or co-founding something is that you do literally everything. Some aspects of this are highly educational – getting to a working prototype, romancing prospective customers, fine-tuning your business model, and seeking financing are all subjects worthy of great minds. Other aspects, such as paperwork, taxes, and yes, taking out the trash, merely build character. However, character is something you will need a lot of, and here’s why: execution is substantially harder than people think.
"After moving his small Facebook team to Palo Alto in the summer of 2004, he turned much of his attention to building a file-share product called Wirehog. Facebook was going gangbusters, but Zuckerberg wasn’t sure it would last; this was his hedge."
“The Maturation of the Billionaire Boy-Man” by New York Magazine
Whenever I meet an entrepreneur that tells me about their side projects, I cringe. Experimentation is good, but hedging is a flawed startup strategy. If you want to go into the markets and hedge as an investment strategy, that is perfectly sensible. The juggling act of managing two or more products at the same time however is a recipe for disaster.
Product hedging never works. Great products are evolved and molded by people that are passionate and wholly invested in a singular idea. On the other hand, the product of hedged bets looks like Frankenstein. This is the provenance of big companies and corporate decision making which is all about compromises. That is why great innovation rarely comes from big companies.
You either believe in what you are doing or you do not. Instead of spreading your bets, double down on your thing and make is succeed come hell or high water. Leave the hedging to mega-corporations and money managers.