In order to do so I couldn't base my assumptions on my own experience because... well they are only assumptions. There are tons of articles like 'things I've learned about startups'. Some of the points repeat, but most of them are just subjective, controversial opinions.
I needed raw, statistical data. But where to look for such a data?HN and reddit's r/startups are two places where community is strong and where real discussion happens. The best thing is that you can immediately know when community agrees on something thanks to points/upvotes people give you.
The articles are just themes that help to fire up a discussion about certain topic. I decided to focus on comments, not on sources and I started to dig.
What I basically did:
- searched for themes that repeated often on HN/reddit (like fails, startup ideas, creating a mvp)
- gathered all the world views about certain theme
- choosed all the world views that are repeated or were voted high, neglected controversial ones
No subjective opinions, no 'my experience' thoughts, just raw statistical data. I am in the middle of a reasearch (it's boring and takes time) though I wanted to share with you some results in order to verify if my methodology works. Sit tight and tell me how many times did you nod your head.
- Failure is a part of entrepreneurship. Most startups will fail few times before they learn how to fulfill market needs
- Fails are devastating. You invested so much in following your idea that every, even small change feels like tearing your heart apart
- Successes are exceptions. There's much more probability that your startup idea won't work and it's only up to you how fast will you verify it
- Fear of failure often stops you from realeasing your project and validating it. Just accept the risk of not matching your customer needs, implementing another feature won't reduce it
- In order to lower the probability of a failure, take small, measured risks and verify every hypothesis.
- Execution is 99% of a startup success. Facebook and Amazon are good ideas with brilliant execution. Ideas are just multipliers of an execution: (brilliant idea) x (crappy execution) = still zero
- Ideas have to be verified ASAP. Your assumptions are probably wrong."I think my idea is brilliant and so will everybody else"
- Ideas can be verified without even building an MVP through customer interviews, gathering data, attracting the customers with your pitch and so on.
- Stealth mode is a bad idea. 99% of ideas are not worth stealing, some should be protected but probably not yours.
- Stealth mode often drives "fear of launch" sickness. "Only one last feature and we are launching" - yeah, right.
- People are rarely objective when it comes to their idea. Every founder believes that his idea has a great potential. That is why others' opinion (customers, advisors) is so important
- Founders are not honest with themselves about expected failure rate when the realistic probablility for success is very low. Verify 'how are you doing' on numbers and key success factors, it'll help you be more realistic
MVP and prototypes
- Successful app is as much about what it doesn't do as what it does. A lot of features you build will be not used. That is why it is so important to start from minimal viable product - simplicity is the key
- Test the performance of every new feature you build. Even if users requested for it, they may not need it.. and remember, every new feature makes product a little more complex
- It's hard to evaluate whether you are producing useful MVP. What can help you is questioning every feature and keeping it as simple as possible.
- Don't listen to your users when it comes to building a product. Users are not good product builders. Rather than that, gather data.
- Startups are not only magical adventure. There is a lot of administrative tasks and paperwork. It's tough and it's boring and you have to do it. Often there is more paperwork than adventure.
- Doing a startup is all about balancing: design, development, sales, marketing, optimizing, testing. Don't lock yourself in a comfort zone and try not to neglect any of those - learn
- You'll never know how good your product is until people touch it. Ship often and fast.
- In order to ship effectively, break big and overwhelming tasks into a small manageable pieces
- Be prepared for pivots and set backs. If you can't get traction, pivot.. and don't look back after that. It's hard to leave "so much excellent code" but having an unnecessary baggage will negatively affect your future decisions
Sales and Marketing
- Products don't sell by themselves. Why to build something you can't sell? How many products you know failed because of technology?
- It's better not to hire anyone to do sales and marketing at first. Learn how to sell your product.
- Good enough product + great marketing is much more probably scenario of success than other way around.
- You are not making startup for yourself even if you're in a target audience. You won't be objective about it
- After choosing your target audience do some research. "Don't find customers for your product, find products for your consumers" - Seth Godin
- Talking and listening to your target audience minimizes the risk of failure and making the wrong assumptions
- At the beginning focus on your perfect customer only. Do not define them by demographics but by things they identify with (how they perceive themselves)
This is it for the first release. There's much more worldviews and themes I would like to cover, but at first I would like to verify my hypothesis that most of you will agree on. Let me know in the comments if you agree or not with certain points above and help me to develop this list further. The mission is to create a list that you can send to any newbie in order to realize some of their misconceptions.