Here are a few of my takeaways gleaned from this course. Click here to learn more.]
When you have a large number of customers, you can’t get to know all of them intimately and so you must make certain assumptions about them. But when you have a small startup your customer base is smaller so you can get to know them more intimately. That is an extreme asset to have!
For any particular piece of advice, I can find somebody who:
1) Followed that advice and made a lot of money
2) Didn’t follow that advice and made a lot of money
3) Followed that advice and didn’t make a lot of money
4) Didn’t follow that advice and didn’t make a lot of money
A pivot is a structured course correction designed to test a new fundamental hypothesis about the product, strategy, and engine of growth.
Did I even need to be here (during the last six months) given that all my work was thrown away?’ Why was it worth having done all this work in the first place?
‘Because you learned something.’ A learning experience is always the last excuse in the book. The more important question is ‘If your goal for the last six months was to learn something about your customers, why did it take six months?’
If you don’t know who your customer is, how do you build the project? Which customer should you sit down with next to the engineer or designer and tell them what to do? Entrepreneurs are working on products where nobody knows what the customer wants.
At best, you have a theory, a hypothesis, a plan.
We all know that when big companies buy startups, at least half the time, they die afterwards. So big companies buy something for hundreds of millions of dollars, and then wind up selling it years later for tens of millions of dollars. In general management, when you buy an asset, it depreciates in a predictable way. But when big companies buy startups, it doesn’t happen exactly like it’s supposed to.
If you can get the real story about what actually happened at the early stages of a company, you will find out that successful startups do no have better ideas than the failed ones. Contrary to what you see in the movies, most startup founders of successful companies had ludicrously bad ideas at the beginning.
We all know that most startups fail. As an engineer, I’ve had over and over again the experience of working on amazing technology that today is sitting on a shelf or worse, that nobody is using. I kept looking for more technical solutions, ‘If we could just get the right development methodology, the right this or the right that, then we could stop this from happening.’ But the truth is that anyone whose worked on new products knows that most of them are doomed to failure.
Imagine working for a company where, if you could come up with a better way to do your job, not only would you be penalized (for being seen as a liar before you pointed it out), so would all your coworkers (for knowing the more efficient way existed, but not telling the management about it).
Focus groups kept saying things like: ‘Let me try it out first and see if it’s cool, then I’ll invite my friends.’ In the video game industry this means single-player mode. So we built a single-player version of the product so test subjects could try it out and get used to it to ‘see if it was cool.’