Venture capitalist reveals how a startup can get a positive feedback loop rolling before time runs out

A positive feedback loop is important to the growth of any business. But having a good product alone is not enough to ensure your success. So, what makes the difference between successful exponential growth and failure into obscurity?

Paul Graham, co-founder of the venture capital firm Y Combinator, explains with “Do Things That Don’t Scale“:

A lot of would-be founders believe that startups either take off or don’t. You build something, make it available, and if you’ve made a better mousetrap, people beat a path to your door as promised. Or they don’t, in which case the market must not exist. […]

It’s not enough just to do something extraordinary initially. You have to make an extraordinary effort initially. Any strategy that omits the effort—whether it’s expecting a big launch to get you users, or a big partner—is ipso facto suspect. […]

Over-engaging with early users is not just a permissible technique for getting growth rolling. For most successful startups it’s a necessary part of the feedback loop that makes the product good. Making a better mousetrap is not an atomic operation. Even if you start the way most successful startups have, by building something you yourself need, the first thing you build is never quite right. And except in domains with big penalties for making mistakes, it’s often better not to aim for perfection initially. In software, especially, it usually works best to get something in front of users as soon as it has a quantum of utility, and then see what they do with it. Perfectionism is often an excuse for procrastination, and in any case your initial model of users is always inaccurate, even if you’re one of them.

Graham’s examples of successful growth include the once fragile startups Airbnb, Facebook, Meraki, and Pebble, some of which became billion dollar businesses. The article is definitely a good read if launching a successful product is your thing.

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