Saturday, May 3, 2014

Do Things That Don't Scale - by Paul Graham (Summary)

Summarizing Paul Graham's Post - Do Things That Don't Scale

1) Recruit users manually like crazy (ie. Stripe and Airbnb)

2 reasons why founders resist going out and recruiting:
 a) shyness
 b) laziness

Example: - aggressive early user acquisition

2) Fragile Ask yourself: “how big could this get if we did the right things?”
 - the right things seem laborious and inconsequential

3) Delight your first customers 
Finding early types of users - Pinterest - Ben Silbermann noticed that a lot of the earliest Pinterest  users were interested in design, so he went to a conference of design bloggers to recruit users and that worked well.

4) Experience - Engage your earliest users and talk to them and watch them use the product.

5) Fire - focus on a narrow initial market and really learn what it is.

6) Meraki - did thing that didn’t scale : assembling routers themselves (this section was not too worth reading)

7) Consult - for a single person and fit the product to do exactly what they want.

8) Manual - do things manually at first, and then gradually automate the bottlenecks

9) Big - the big launch never works, you need to get users, learn from them and then get more.  How many successful companies “LAUNCHES” do you remember?  It’s about making your customers happy months after they sign up.

10) Vector - recruit users manually and give them an overwhelmingly good experience—and the main benefit of treating startups as vectors will be to remind founders they need to work hard in two dimensions.

In the best case, both components of the vector contribute to your company's DNA: the unscalable things you have to do to get started are not merely a necessary evil, but change the company permanently for the better. If you have to be aggressive about user acquisition when you're small, you'll probably still be aggressive when you're big. If you have to manufacture your own hardware, or use your software on users's behalf, you'll learn things you couldn't have learned otherwise. And most importantly, if you have to work hard to delight users when you only have a handful of them, you'll keep doing it when you have a lot.

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