November 7, 2018

What are some real hacks/stories of founders who did things that don't scale?

As Paul Graham from YC popularized, founders in early days have to "do things that don't scale" to attract and retain new users and grow the company in the crucial early stages.

As a maker, I often run into the same 4 or 5 types of struggles. Getting customers, finding co-founders, pricing adjustments etc. So I wanted to build an open repository of proven hacks/stories so we can all learn from each other and push through the early stages. The hacks can be about assessing customer demand smartly, getting initial users, converting them to paid users, getting enterprise clients, making it to the hope page of Product Hunt/HN etc.

Add your story here as a comment or tweet at the thread here: https://twitter.com/thisiskp_/status/1060163508548091904

Thanks for your contributions in advance!

DISCLAIMER: This list is by no means a prescriptive advice for founders. Feel free to use your own judgement and apply what makes sense to your startup in a given context.


  1. 2

    "Make a fake buy/upgrade button on your site to see who would actually pay" (h/t Buffer) link: https://blog.bufferapp.com/idea-to-paying-customers-in-7-weeks-how-we-did-it

  2. 1

    Adding a few here:

    "Make special cereal boxes and sell them as a promotion to fund your startup and keep runway" (h/t Airbnb) link: https://medium.com/@austincoleschafer/a-short-story-about-how-airbnb-funded-their-startup-with-cereal-boxes-ac6e62cf4c4c