How To Make The Lust Last

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.

 

Wanna Learn How To Start A Startup?

Lucky Stanford students get all the perks.

They get to learn how to start a startup in a class taught by some of the most successful tech founders in Silicon Valley. Sam Altman, entrepreneur, venture capitalist and president of Y Combinator, and Dustin Moskovitz, co-founder of Facebook and Asana, delivered the first lecture.

Courtesy of Sam Altman via Twitter

Courtesy of Sam Altman via Twitter

I picked up a lot of great sound bytes in the video that are helpful to anyone trying to launch a startup.  And remember, this is not all about technology. These words of wisdom apply to ALL.

The big question of the session is why start a start-up?  Altman and Moskovitz don’t romanticize entrepreneurship. They urge the students to go into their endeavors eyes wide open and realize that the uphill climb will be much harder than they ever anticipated.  Starting a startup isn’t a great way to get rich quick.  The media does a great job of making it look so cool.  In reality, it’s not nearly as glamorous. It’s not The Social Network.

You need 4 things to be successful: a great idea, a great product, a great team and great execution.

Be passionate about your idea because you’ll be living, eating, breathing and sleeping it for the foreseeable future.  The dew will be off the rose pretty quickly if you’re not as invested in your idea as you expect your customers to be.  One of the best pieces of advice in the video is to find a small market, create a monopoly and expand quickly. And keep the concept simple!  You should be able to tweet the idea!!!! 140 characters or less!

Spend all your time on building the best, most effective product possible.  Get feedback from a variety of users and OFTEN.  Always refine the product so it meets the needs of your target audience.  The less complex it is, the easier it will be to enhance later.  Focus on building something a small number of users LOVE and not something a large group of users LIKE.

And once you have the product, take it to the audience.  One cool anecdote shared was about how the founder of Pinterest gathered feedback and raised awareness of the site. He’d go into the Apple store in Palo Alto and bring Pinterest up on every device in the store so it was the first thing Apple fans would see.  Brilliant, eh? It worked for a while too…until the geek squad (and I say that with affection) caught on and kicked him out.

Check out the video.  It’s very illuminating. =)

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