Startup DNA

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Startup DNA: the formula behind successful startups in Silicon Valley. These are my personal observations on a few traits that make startups successful. …

Startup DNA: the formula behind successful startups in Silicon Valley. These are my personal observations on a few traits that make startups successful.

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  • 1. Startup DNAThe formula behind successful startups in Silicon Valley
  • 2. Startup DNAThe formula behind successful startups in Silicon Valley
  • 3. About me
  • 4. Who Im not...● Im not Paul Graham, Reid Hoffman, Dave McClure, Marc Andreessen (sorry)● I dont own a company● Im a "rank amateur"
  • 5. What I offer is a different perspective: "from the trenches"
  • 6. Who I am● Had front row seats at very successful startups: LinkedIn, TripAdvisor● Wrote a lot of code: Monetization, Platform, Infrastructure, Apps● Created a few programs: Hackdays, [in]cubator, engineering blog, open source
  • 7. These are my personal observations on a few traits that make startups successful.
  • 8. Outline1. Make excellent mistakes2. Speed wins3. Boyds law4. If you cant measure it, you cant fix it5. Distribution6. Sharing
  • 9. Outline1. Make excellent mistakes2. Speed wins3. Boyds law4. If you cant measure it, you cant fix it5. Distribution6. Sharing
  • 10. "Make excellent mistakes" Dan Pink [1]
  • 11. The road to startup success is paved with failure
  • 12. Failed projects
  • 13. ● Answers● Events● Tweets● Github● Countless other experiments that never made it past a "dark launch"
  • 14. ● Wave● Buzz● Labs● Health● Knol● Catalog● Video● Answers
  • 15. The Pivot
  • 16. ● Started as a way to share images in Game Neverending, a massively multiplayer online game.● Rewritten to focus on photo sharing● Acquired by Yahoo for $35m in 2005
  • 17. ● Started out as burbn, an HTML5 mobile app for location-based social networking with photo sharing as one of many features● Completely rewritten as a photo sharing focused native app● Sold to facebook for $1bn in 2012
  • 18. Twitter● Started out as odeo, a site to create and share podcasts● Struggling to stay alive, they held a hackathon. Jack Dorsey proposed the microblogging concept (originally, text message only).● 500m users and $10b valuation in 2012
  • 19. "Timing, perseverance, and ten years of tryingwill eventually make you look like an overnight success." Biz Stone [2]
  • 20. The Failure
  • 21. Richard Branson● Virgin Clothes failed● Virgin Cola failed● Virgin Vision failed● Virgin Vodka failed● Virgin Wine failed● Virgin Jeans failed● Virgin Cars failed● ... and many others failed● ... but several hundred others succeeded
  • 22. "I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work." Thomas Edison
  • 23. "Screw it! Just do it!" Richard Branson
  • 24. Reid Hoffman● His first startup was Socialnet.com: a social network for dating.● Never heard of it? Exactly.● Went on to become COO of Paypal, co- founder of LinkedIn, and one of the most successful angel investors of the last decade.
  • 25. "If youre not failing every now and again, its asign youre not doing anything very innovative." Woody Allen
  • 26. Outline1. Make excellent mistakes2. Speed wins3. Boyds law4. If you cant measure it, you cant fix it5. Distribution6. Sharing
  • 27. "Speed wins" Stephen Kaufer
  • 28. You will not get it right the first time. Or the 10th.
  • 29. Product development (assumption) Mature, stableMaturity Proof of concept Idea Time
  • 30. Product development (reality) Mature, stableMaturity Proof of concept Idea Time
  • 31. Product development (reality) A very large portion of development time is trial and error Mature, stableMaturity Proof of concept Idea Time
  • 32. In a trial and error world, getting to errors faster is the key to success.
  • 33. Product development (technology comparison) Mature, stable Dynamic/interpretedMaturity languages Static languages Proof of concept Idea Time
  • 34. Product development (technology comparison) Innovation Advantage Mature, stable Dynamic/interpretedMaturity languages Static languages Proof of concept Idea Time
  • 35. Product development (framework comparison) Innovation Advantage Mature, stable RoR, PlayMaturity Servlets, Spring Proof of concept Idea Time
  • 36. Product development (development method comparison) Innovation Advantage Mature, stable Agile, ScrumMaturity Waterfall Proof of concept Idea Time
  • 37. "If youre not embarrassed by your first release, youve launched too late." Reid Hoffman
  • 38. Outline1. Make excellent mistakes2. Speed wins3. Boyds law4. If you cant measure it, you cant fix it5. Distribution6. Sharing
  • 39. Boyds Law of Iteration:"Speed of iteration beats quality of iteration." Jeff Atwood [3]
  • 40. Brikman corollary:"Speed of iteration improves quality of iteration."
  • 41. Rapid Prototyping Change the code See the result Should be as close to 0 as possible
  • 42. Demo● jsfiddle● Firebug● Developer tools● apigee● JavaScript API Console● CodeKit
  • 43. "A canvas or sketchbook serves as an external imagination." Bret Victor [4]
  • 44. "A programming language is for thinking ofprograms, not for expressing programs youve already thought of." Paul Graham [5]
  • 45. Leverage● Always, always, always google first● "Theres an open source library for that"● Many minds are better than one● Bonus: learn from the code
  • 46. Demo● node.js modules● ruby toolbox● github● google fonts● lorem ipsum● placekitten
  • 47. "Youll be lucky if you have a single original idea your entire life." Mr. Patch [6]
  • 48. Outline1. Make excellent mistakes2. Speed wins3. Boyds law4. If you cant measure it, you cant fix it5. Distribution6. Sharing
  • 49. "If you cant measure it, you cant fix it." DJ Patil
  • 50. You will not get it right the first time. Or the 10th. Or ever, if you dont know what is right and what is wrong.
  • 51. inGraphs Server metrics
  • 52. inGraphs Database metrics
  • 53. inGraphs Client-side metrics
  • 54. Profile metrics
  • 55. Activity metrics
  • 56. Bug metrics
  • 57. Build metrics
  • 58. Test metrics
  • 59. Measure everything.
  • 60. LiXLinkedIn Experimentation Platform
  • 61. LiX● Group members into buckets● Control feature visibility by bucket● A/B testing● Feature ramps: dark launch, 1%, 10%, 100%
  • 62. Subscriptions Bucket A
  • 63. Subscriptions Bucket B
  • 64. Subscriptions Bucket C
  • 65. Subscriptions Bucket D
  • 66. Picking the right image for a given user significantly increased CTR
  • 67. "Web 3.0 will be about data." Reid Hoffman
  • 68. Outline1. Make excellent mistakes2. Speed wins3. Boyds law4. If you cant measure it, you cant fix it5. Distribution6. Sharing
  • 69. Products do NOT sell themselves.
  • 70. "Poor distribution - not product - is the number one cause of failure." Peter Thiel [7]
  • 71. Common distribution channels All credit goes to Peter Thiel [7] and Adam Nash [8]
  • 72. Sales● Dedicated sales team: LinkedIn● Employees as sales team: Square● CEO as sales team: Palantir [7]● Competitions, grants: SpaceX [7]
  • 73. Email● No one likes spam, but email can work: personalized, universal, measurable.● Direct marketing emails: very low CTR● Product emails: built into to product interactions. Far better CTRs.
  • 74. Year in Review Email CTRs so high, it was "clicks-per-email"! [8]
  • 75. Facebook photo tagging email My personal CTR on these is 100%.
  • 76. SEO● Free, measurable, effective● LinkedIn: public profiles, public groups, LinkedIn Today, LinkedIn influencers● TripAdvisor: the vast majority of TripAdvisor traffic comes from Google
  • 77. TripAdvisor SEO One of the top search results for almost any hotel
  • 78. LinkedIn SEO "Professional profile of record"
  • 79. Social● Put it in the stream● Social gestures: comments, likes, votes● Just like email spam, the feed is becoming flooded
  • 80. Media● Blogs, news sites: techcrunch, mashable, huffpost, wired, and many others● Newspapers, magazines, TV● Huge reach and a great way to bring in many users in a short time
  • 81. Build relationships with the media
  • 82. Marketing● Traditional ads: TV, print ads, billboards. Expensive, hard to measure, and rarely used by startups.● Online ads: CTR, CPM, SEM. Measure everything!
  • 83. Viral Marketing● Your users attract more users● Game theory, psychology, sociology● Free, often measurable (tracking codes)
  • 84. Viral loops must be built into the product.
  • 85. Key Viral Marketing Concepts● Viral loops: in my product, where do users interact with non-users?● Viral factor: how many non-users do they reach per viral interaction?● Cycle time: how often do these viral interactions occur?
  • 86. People You May Know (PYMK) Invite notification shows up via email, web UI, and mobile. When the other member accepts the invite, we show them PYMK too!
  • 87. Twitter @mentions Notification shows up via email, web UI, and mobile
  • 88. Google Analytics & Webmaster Tools Essential tools for measuring the performance of your distribution channels (measure everything!)
  • 89. The best product doesnt always win.
  • 90. The best distribution wins● Betamax vs. VHS [11]● Apple vs. Microsoft (early 90s) [12]● TiVo vs. DVR [13]● Netscape vs. IE [22]
  • 91. Outline1. Make excellent mistakes2. Speed wins3. Boyds law4. If you cant measure it, you cant fix it5. Distribution6. Sharing
  • 92. Silicon Valley companies share (almost) everything.
  • 93. Share Everything● Papers: MapReduce [15], Dynamo [16]● Open Source: Hadoop [17], Voldemort [18]● Hardware: OpenCompute [19]● Companies: Red Hat [20], Mozilla [21]
  • 94. Writing Speaking Open Source
  • 95. Why?
  • 96. Mastery: the best way to learn, is to teach.
  • 97. Better code & products: the house is cleanest just before guests arrive
  • 98. Free labor: free QA, free documentation, free bug fixes, ...
  • 99. Publicity: recognition for the company and its employees
  • 100. Happier employees: something they keep forever
  • 101. "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." Isaac Newton
  • 102. This is why Im here today.Please share your feedback and experiences with me!
  • 103. Recap1. Make excellent mistakes2. Speed wins3. Boyds law4. If you cant measure it, you cant fix it5. Distribution6. Sharing
  • 104. Questions?
  • 105. References 1. http://www.amazon.com/Adventures-Johnny-Bunko-Career-Guide/dp/1594482918?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1206925356&sr=8-1 2. http://www.bizstone.com/2010/09/timing-lessons.html 3. http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2007/02/boyds-law-of-iteration.html 4. http://worrydream.com/LearnableProgramming/ 5. http://www.paulgraham.com/hp.html 6. Mr. Patch was my 11th grade physics teacher 7. http://blakemasters.com/post/22405055017/peter-thiels-cs183-startup-class-9-notes-essay 8. http://blog.adamnash.com/2012/03/28/user-acquisition-five-sources-of-traffic/ 9. http://blog.adamnash.com/2012/04/04/user-acquisition-viral-factor-basics/10. http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20121002124206-18876785-how-to-model-viral-growth-the-hybrid-model11. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Videotape_format_war12. http://www.roughlydrafted.com/RD/Q4.06/9FD12E37-8DC7-4AD1-872F-2021BEDE6D96.html13. http://www.quora.com/TiVo/Why-did-TiVo-fail14. http://www.paulgraham.com/growth.html15. http://research.google.com/archive/mapreduce.html16. http://www.read.seas.harvard.edu/~kohler/class/cs239-w08/decandia07dynamo.pdf17. http://hadoop.apache.org/18. http://www.project-voldemort.com/voldemort/19. http://www.opencompute.org/20. http://www.redhat.com/21. http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/22. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Browser_wars