April 23, 2019

Is a startup without inertia doomed?

is there any merit to the hypothesis that a product needs to reach a certain level of momentum by a certain time or it'll stale and never catch on?
I'm willing to run my startup as a sideproject and paying to keep the servers on indefinitely until one day it finally reaches product/market fit and it catches on. Is this naive?

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    Wow, there's a lot of different stuff to disentangle here.

    is there any merit to the hypothesis that a product needs to reach a certain level of momentum by a certain time or it'll stale and never catch on?

    The simple answer is that, if you aren't doing any work on customer acquisition (sales/marketing), then your product will go stale/die if your average customer refers you less than 1 new customer over their lifetime as a customer.

    If you're doing some customer acquisition, things are less black and white...

    One thing I would say though is you shouldn't expect to find product/market fit by just leaving your project running.

    Sure, there's a chance of it being discovered by some niche of customers eventually. But there's definitely no guarantee that will ever happen. I'd put the likelihood at <1%.

    Instead, it happens by you talking to customers and learning about them and their pains/needs.

    Can you do that as a side project?

    Yes, absolutely!

    Is this naive?

    Yes, absolutely! ;)

    Good luck!

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    It's difficult to answer this without understanding your industry or product. Some B2B solutions need just one or two high-value customers to succeed. Other products don't really benefit from network effects.

    But in many industries having a core group of customers to provide word of mouth marketing is essential to reaching the next level.

    It's hard to know more without understanding your situation. Feel free to email me (see profile) if you want to share specifics.

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      This feeling I had was motivated by the idea that no one wants to use an app that no one else is using (this app is a social app). I see I may be overthinking things and just have to launch and run the beta with whoever wants to try it out. And keep running the app as long as the server costs are low.

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        You can always launch and see, especially if you've done the coding. For a social network a large user base is key. You need to find a hook to get people onboard and active.

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    is there any merit to the hypothesis that a product needs to reach a certain level of momentum by a certain time or it'll stale and never catch on?

    Probably for some types of products in some industries, but for 99%, no. There is no "it's too late and now it will never work." You just have to change the right thing to get it to work. Ofc figuring out what those right things are is the whole enchilada. New features? Better positioning? Different target customer? More effort at sales? Etc, etc.

    But perhaps I misinterpreted your question. Are you instead asking about whether you can magically hit PMF without continuously working to diagnose and fix the root causes of stagnation? Almost no chance of that happening.

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    Well, if you enjoy building, maintaining and learning while building out your side project then No. It is not doomed.

    What all are you doing now to find what your product market fit is?

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      I'm just trying to launch first. But I'm thinking about how I want to run the beta phase.

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    This comment was deleted 5 months ago.