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Evernote has never been sexy, almost ran out of money, and doesn’t benefit from the network effects that drive many of today’s successful companies.
The idea of having a growth engine is essential to startups. Yet, I often see entrepreneurs thinking they can only rely on a great product - or sometimes not even as much: a great idea. Value for startups only come from growth and some great product will simply not make it because they lack a growth engine.
There are various types of growth engines, including:
- virality (your current users' actions bring your next users)
- stickiness / increased value over time (your users don't do much beyond simple word-of-mouth but as they never leave this ends up in growing usage)
- ad-funded user acquisition (you make enough advertising/premium money from current users to acquire the next users through advertising)
- sales-funded revenue (you make enough sales from current customers to recruit more sales people or fund distribution channels to get the next customers).
What's not a growth engine?
These are typically not enough to get accelerating growth/traction.
In short, if you don't have a growth engine, you don't have a startup.
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A fundamental piece of the Lean Startup theory by Eric Ries. Which model is yours?
Getting Traction Lightning Talk #12 Startup Product Summit San Francisco
I've been asked by Cindy Solomon, the founder of the insightful Startup Product Talks to talk about the difficult relationship between product building, marketing and getting traction. I've often found a lot of people were confused about the following questions:
- how do I launch a product to make an impact?
- should I advertise?
- should startup not do any marketing?
There are myths around these questions, particularly in Silicon Valley which is still a very engineering-driven culture ("build it and they will come"). But while advertising can be crack for startups, marketing is a must-have as I'm glad prominent SV figures like Marc Andreesen clearly states.
So what type of marketing then? Well, among other things like product marketing, community management, user support which are all essential, I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce the new concept of Lean Content, an approach to content marketing that we've started to discuss during our meetup groups since the end of last year. I believe startups can efficiently build their brands through content and here are some examples showing how.
If you want to understand startups, understand growth. Growth drives everything in this world.
Paul Graham - the founder of Y combinator - states some obvious and some not-so-obvious facts about what makes startups different than any other businesses: growth.