Kevin Hale, partner of Y Combinator and founder of Wufoo, recently gave a fab presentation at Stanford as part of the “How To Start a Startup” course. I LOVE these sessions. It’s so great to gain perspective from those who’ve been successful putting their lessons into practice. You know the saying “those who can’t do, teach?” Not the case with this series of guest lectures.
Aside from the fact that Hale is an entertaining and colorful presenter, he uses dating and marriage analogies when discussing how to build a product with the goal of being embraced by a target audience. How apropos…totally appeals to my romance author side.
Some key points he hits on are as follows:
- Build a passionate user base
- Give them something that will make them successful in some recognizable way
- Focus on the value used to get your first dollar or customer…if you figure that out, it will help guide you along the path to your first million (with a little luck and a lot of capital – those are my two cents)
- Build a product you want people to love and form a relationship with
Hale likens attracting a new user to dating and keeping existing users to marriage. Very clever.
Think about it…when you’re dating, everything is new, exciting, intriguing. First impressions are absolutely key. Little romantic gestures make you melt, butterflies are constantly fluttering about in your belly when you think about the person. It’s pure bliss, right???
Value is established. But how do you make those feelings last? Because anyone who is in a long-term relationship knows the excitement dies down after a while and it’s only a matter of time before the “dew is off the rose.”
So how do you maintain that value?
You need to keep things fresh and different…always looking for opportunities to enhance. You can’t sustain a meaningful relationship unless you take your partners’ wants and needs into account and these WILL evolve over time. Trust me. =)
Cater to your faithful customers. Don’t take them for granted. Talk to them, LISTEN to their feedback and incorporate it into your product base to the best offerings possible. If you want to maintain a healthy rapport with your users, you need to be flexible, communicative and willing to compromise.