The Startup Curve

I'm working with a few startups right now that are in various phases of Paul Graham's startup curve:

Many people think startups are up and to the right all the time. But more services exhibit this "startup curve" than any other growth pattern. Of course, some never get past the trough of sorrow. But many do. Mostly by staying focused on the problem they are trying to solve and working diligently to get to the promised land.

I had lunch with an entrepreneur yesterday who I've been working with for two decades now. On his most recent project, it took him years to get to the promised land. But he is there now, usage is scaling, customers are renewing, and the business is finally making money. It was great to see that and he was justifiably proud of the accomplishment.

It turns out, like most success stories, the answer was simplifying the service. Taking features out. Reducing the value proposition to a clear and simple use case. This was not done in a vacuum. This was done by releasing a less than perfect product to the market, finding a few customers who wanted a less than perfect product, and then listening carefully to those customers to get to the ideal product.

This is why you must go through the roller coaster ride. The wearing off phase is scary. The trough of sorrow is horrible. The crash of ineptitude is a near death experience. But without all of them, you can't get feedback, you can't learn what is just hype, and what is reality.

So to all those entrepreneurs whittling away in their offices trying to find out when to release their product to the market, I say "get on with it". You are going to have to go on the roller coaster ride at some point. Might as well start now.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. RichardF

    thanks for the kick in the ass…

    1. fredwilson

      it was aimed elswhere

      1. JimHirshfield

        In the head?

        1. Mark Essel

          The groin?

  2. jason wright

    Looks like the EEG of a bipolar manic depressive.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s about right.

      1. jason wright

        Prescribe lithium Dr Fred, lots of lithium.

        1. Emily Merkle

          that plus a good anti-psychotic like Zyprexa is called for in these cases Рtrust me. 

    2. Mark Essel

      You’ve identified the character of a business ūüôā

      1. jason wright

        role model

      2. ShanaC

        what is this?

        1. testtest

          it’s from a film called¬†Equilibrium. it muses on an Orwellian-like dystopia were senses are outlawed, repressed by drugs, and the main¬†antagonist¬†is a big-brother figure. starring such actors as Christian Bale and Sean Bean

          1. jason wright

            A Media Corp version of dystopia where the burning of books becomes the burning of Hollywood content. A not too subtle piece of propaganda out of the media industry in defense of *its* right of ‘free speech’. I’m not sure where that leaves the masses. ¬†

    3. jason wright

      or the stages of the male urethra?

    4. Emily Merkle

      hey now Рas a Bipolar Person I must say that 1) yes it does, I just had a EEG today, and 2) saying Bipolar Manic Depressive is a redundant statement. Either Bipolar or Manic Depressive. 

      1. jason wright

        ….and so is there a correlation between the you, the curve, and being here?

        1. Emily Merkle

          There is, O Perceptive One. What the hell it all means, I have not a clue, but it is surely kismet. 

          1. Emily Merkle

            There is, O Perceptive One. What the hell it all means, I have not a clue, but it is surely kismet.

          2. jason wright

            less lucid.

          3. jason wright

            A block of granite would perceive it. 

          4. jason wright

            …the yellow brick road would be a better choice.

      2. jason wright

        lucid.

  3. Carl J. Mistlebauer

    “Simplifying the service”I remember our first experience with B2C, which wasn’t much….# 1 unsolicited consumer feedback: ¬†“You ship fast!’I just assumed that everyone shipped orders out the same day if received by 2pm….Thus all my worries and concerns about being a success in the B2C world were way overrated….All we had to do was ship…. .

    1. RichardF

      So true Carl, responding to a potential client/customers needs quickly is a sales advantage over slower competitors

      1. markslater

        i’d rather not take the TC route. I think to a large ¬†extent it can deliver a¬†start-up¬†a false sense of success early on – and it is all about staying humble and working socks off to tweak the product fit.¬†You are going to burn and churn the first block of users in some way. Thats not newsworthy.we had someone suggest to us that we have add to our homepage”not featured on : <insert all=”” tech=”” blog=”” logos=”” here=””> ” i did see the humor in it.

        1. ShanaC

          I could see myself doing this

        2. FAKE GRIMLOCK

          PUT “NOT FEATURED ON TECHCRUNCH” ON HOMEPAGE ALL CERTIFICATION GREAT STARTUP NEED!

    2. JLM

      Ship!  Brilliant, well played!

      1. leigh

        because I write fiction, as part of my continual procrastination process i started to read books on writing. ¬†you know what most of them come down to?sit down.¬†every day.and just write.There’s a great quote i love to use with clients – we have a strategic plan, it’s called doing things. ¬†ūüôā

        1. JLM

          Most success is about being 80% right and done on time.Starting anything is the key to finishing everything.

          1. William Mougayar

            Well said.¬†Corollary: The sooner you start, the earlier you’ll finish.¬†There’s a French saying which translates to:”Don’t leave until tomorrow, what you can do today”

          2. ShanaC

            what’s the other 20%

          3. FAKE GRIMLOCK

            GET LUCKY.

        2. fredwilson

          Write every dayThat little trick changed my life

          1. John Revay

            I need to start doing that.

          2. David Fishman

            I read S-1 & 10-K’s of competitive / strategic Cos. to learn about public companies reports, as they are VERY important sources of competitive information.¬†

          3. Emily Merkle

            I am starting to write. It is intimidating to sit in front of a blank screen so I have started by carrying a notebook around with me and jotting down thoughts as they come. My uncle gave me that advice. He said Рwrite it down, and come back to it and see if it still makes sense/is relevant/is genius. 

        3. Carl Rahn Griffith

          I’ve been writing a business plan/related for 20 hours or so already this week. My eyes and brain hurts.¬†If it leads to ‘doing things’ will be worth it, I guess ūüėČ

        4. matthughes

          Awesome, love this. 

        5. William Mougayar

          well said. my doing things is the best plan there is. but that said, you need minimum planning and measuring so that the doing is the right doing.

          1. leigh

            well in fairness, my company is a strategy design company so i’m all about the strategy. ¬†But large expensive powerpoints that go no where and can’t be operationalized? ¬†not so much ūüėČ

          2. William Mougayar

            i think we agree. but this points that large companies and smaller ones operate very differently.¬†if you’re trying to apply startup thinking to large companies, that’s a tough sell. if a big company wants to be entrepreneurial, they need to carve out a group, get them out of the corporate office in a totally different space and let them loose. and have only the ceo of this new startup report the mothership.¬†otherwise, it’s very tough to get things done. another alternative is to have General Managers within the units that have a lot of freedom under them which allows them to carve out these little projects on the side quietly and make things happen.¬†Intrapreneurship happens from the bottoms up, not the top down.

        6. Cynthia Schames

          In some circles, that concept is “JFSI”.Just f*cking ship it. ¬†No matter what your product, you’ll never truly know whether it’s awesome or if it sucks until someone can put their hands and eyes on it.¬†

          1. John Revay

            Great one JFSI

          2. Marc Brodeur

            Importantly, JFSI should be paired with some risk-mitigation strategy.If you have known unknowns, be ready to iterate like crazy and keep everyone from hating you.

          3. Cynthia Schames

            Good point, Marc. Another favorite acronym: ABI. ¬†Always Be Iterating.While we’re on the subject of people hating you: don’t launch a product, get people using it, and then shut it down and call it an “experiment”.Cough-Oink-cough.

          4. Guest

            Oh, man, I used to love DabbleDB. It was simplest online table database ever. Twitter bought the company for their analytics side project and killed Dabble. I’m on salesforce now and it’s feature overkill.

        7. Douglas Crets

          Also… Listen. ¬†When we pay attention to how other people format their experience in language, we can learn a lot about where the impact points are in a story. Sometimes I spend time in airport departure halls listening to conversations. IT’s amazing the commonality you find among people in pacing of a story, rhythm and emotional entry points of a theme.¬†

        8. FAKE GRIMLOCK

          DO THING EVERY DAY ONLY WAY DO IT EVERY DAY! #PUMPAWESOME

        9. Donna Brewington White

          Have you read Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird” and Stephen King’s “On Writing”?¬†Any that you recommend in particular?

          1. leigh

            have read the Stephen King book — wouldn’t recommend any one in particularactually one thing i would recommend – i did something called the Humber school for writers- you had to submit your work and you ended up doing writer¬†correspondence with a published (and some times famous) Canadian author. ¬†I worked on my novel lessons in breathing under water with a woman named Olive Senior who was a wonderful writer mentor.Other canadian novelists who mentor have been Micheal Ondaatje, Margaret Atwood, Timothy Findley etc. (all famous Canadian although not sure how popular they are in the US).While i still didn’t finish my book, i learned an exceptional amount and it forced me to have some discipline about my work in a way i never had before.One thing i learned – writing fiction is damn hard work. ¬†ūüôā ¬†

          2. Donna Brewington White

            Very interesting. ¬†And also very interesting learning this about you.I’ve putting writing fiction aside for a while, but I do enjoy it. ¬†I love the art of storytelling. ¬†I did spend a couple of years or so working on a novel in my spare time. ¬†It was like a second job at times. ¬†Hard to have a “second job” with kids.I keep thinking that writing will become my elderly profession.

        10. Emily Merkle

          That is very well put, Leigh. 

        11. LegalMonk

          brilliant. how come no one told me that b4. wait they did!

    3. Elia Freedman

      I have this experience with customer service. We usually respond within an hour or so, sometimes faster. It’s all email and we have devices with us all the time. And customers say, “wow! you respond fast!” Turns out just responding is a differentiator.

      1. Emily Merkle

        so is honesty, stops ’em in their tracks.¬†

    4. Matt A. Myers

      I ordered a portable massage table on Friday from the West coast, it got here Tuesday – ¬†I still don’t have it though, but I blame UPS for that. I thought it would maybe get here Thursday/Friday, though I feel like they’re a more legitimate / serious company and I’ll trust ordering from them again.Before anyone asks, massage table is so I can sell tricks to make more money to bootstrap.. Just kidding! In reality it’s so I can connect with people through offering Reiki. ūüôā

    5. William Mougayar

      Simplifying the service is a key phrase indeed and it takes discipline to do that and stick with it before traction is gained.

      1. FAKE GRIMLOCK

        BEST WAY MAKE AWESOME PRODUCT IS NO WASTE TIME BUILD PARTS NO ONE WANT. #LEANUX

    6. ShanaC

      Which is why they say ship fast

    7. PhilipSugar

       You know this is really true.  We monitor any support email that takes more than 5 minutes to answer, and get a reply out.People today just want fast.  Its a byproduct of technology.  I want to book a rental car in 30 seconds and pick it up in the same amount of time.

  4. Rohan

    Techrunch of initiation.Hahahahahahahahahaha.What about the ones who choose not to go the techcrunch way though?I guess we are assuming all the worthy ones go through TC??

    1. fredwilson

      Its a metaphor for the initial launch hype

  5. JimHirshfield

    Saw you at the top of Techmeme yesterday! Anger = Traffic, I guess. ūüėČ

    1. fredwilson

      70,000 visits yesterdayNow you know why the blogs write what they write

      1. Mark Essel

        Nice.avc is going plaidhttp://www.youtube.com/watc…

      2. John Revay

        ¬†¬†Bijan Sabet¬†‚ÄŹ¬†@bijanCloseDear Yahoo board. You picked the wrong ceo. Again.50+RETWEETS16FAVORITES7:27 AM – 13 Mar 12¬†via¬†Twitter for iPhone¬†¬∑¬†Details¬†Reply¬†¬†Retweeted¬†¬†Favorite

      3. Alex Murphy

        Sad isn’t it. ¬†You have disdain for Yahoo. ¬†You expressed your point of view, one that just about all of us share 100%Media that write with the tone of disdain for the purpose of getting eyeballs are distorting the way everyone discusses things.As a society, we don’t pay attention unless someone is screaming. ¬†Screaming should be left for impending physical harm, not a discussion. ¬†The question is how do we get away from this vicious cycle?

    2. Carl Rahn Griffith

      In the words of John Lydon, in PIL guise, “Anger is an Energy” …

  6. Rohan

    And, by the way, are there any Richard Stallman fans around here? 

      1. Rohan

        Chris, that link was super helpful.Long story short – I guess you might know I’m running this serious of ‘real leader’ interviews on by blog with the help of a small team. A team member reached out to Stallman as he’s touring Singapore for an interview and after lots of back and forth, he’s agreed to do a 20-30 min interview with us tomorrow morning.Understandably though, there’s a bit of nervousness. He definitely seems a very interesting guy and I was hoping to find some insight into his personality online that I could send them.. your link was very useful. Passed it on.Thanks!¬†PS: If there’s any questions you feel we should ask, that be welcome!

        1. testtest

          wow. amazing.thought you could have made your window a bit bigger in the aaron interview; similar to¬†andrew warner, with a 50/50 split of the screen.something around android may be interesting¬†http://articles.businessins…

          1. Rohan

            I was deliberately trying to take away all attention from myself! ūüôā¬†Maybe I’ll find a balance.¬†And thanks for the additional tips. Let’s see how this goes. Will keep you posted. ūüėČ

        2. Mark Essel

          If you ask him about free software and his beliefs you’ll get a great deal of Stallman’s thoughts – perhaps with a bend towards leadership/role models. Just be sensitive to his inclinations and do your best to work with him.

  7. Mark Essel

    It takes a hint of humility and a touch of wisdom to accept the possibility that you’re not a roller coaster rider (I have neither yet).I sure appreciate folks who lend a helping hand during the crash of ineptitude. When I grow up I will be one.

    1. JLM

      Good news — you are humble and you are wise already.Bad news — you will NEVER really grow up. ¬†Trust me on this.Way too much stock placed on being a grown up and mature.Life is a game, play it. ¬†Like a giddy child forever. ¬†Make the natural repose of your face a smile.

      1. Rohan

        ‘We never really grow up. We only learn how to behave in public.’True that.

      2. Mark Essel

        My giddy smile is priceless, especially to me. The days I go without it are better forgotten.

  8. markslater

    7 days and counting

    1. fredwilson

      How is it going?

      1. markslater

        never got the¬†tech-crunch¬†initiation, went straight to the trough of sorrow ūüėȬ†Seriously – we are in the UI phase – all mods complete – we are days not weeks now.¬†I’ll ping you with an update.¬†

        1. awaldstein

          The trough of sorrow is often deeper and more challenging in a b2b world but the slide upward can be quicker once the initial tractions happen. 

          1. markslater

            i was joking – i have absoutely no intention of feeding there – up and to the right, up and to the right….

          2. awaldstein

            Of course!

  9. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    Words and charecters changed from the original joke from a movie. (Tuesdays¬†can also have some fun ūüôā ).Entrepreneur: ¬†Sir tell me my future.Fortune Teller: ¬†You will suffer like a road-side dog for next 5-years.E: ¬†After 5 years I will do great sir.F: ¬†NoE: ¬†what happens after 5-years.F: ¬†You will get used to live like a road-side dog.

    1. fredwilson

      That’s funny. Funny wednesdays

      1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

        See…. that is essence of the joke… i don’t even remember which day … and that qualifies me as an¬†entrepreneur¬†ūüôā .

      2. panterosa,

        This post made me think right off the bat of the ‘3 stages of marriage’ joke.¬†There must be a parallel for entrepreneurs.

        1. ShanaC

          what’s that joke?

          1. panterosa,

            Shana, you are too young for this joke. But since you askedThe first stage of marriage is where you do it everywhere – in the kitchen, on the living room floor, right walking in the door. The second stage is where you do it in the bedroom so the kids won’t hear. The third stage is when you pass you spouse in the hall way and say “[email protected] You”.

          2. Alex Murphy

            I do believe that it is screw you. ūüėČ lol.

          3. ShanaC

            oh…oy

      3. RichardF

        ¬†that’d be “witty wednesdays”

  10. Tom Labus

    Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm is also a good interpretation of new technologies life cycles.

    1. leigh

      Yep but I think the definitions of early adopters are completely outdated. ¬†Keep wanting to do a research study. ¬†Tried to get Mr. Wilson interested but alas, hasn’t happened yet ūüôā

      1. Tom Labus

        I haven’t read it in a long time and it would be interesting to see how it holds up.He was really zeroed in on how large tech changes take place. ¬†It popped into my head as soon as I read Fred’s post.

        1. testtest

          he updates some of the concepts in Dealing With Darwin. and adds a bunch of other useful ideas

          1. Tom Labus

            Thanks.  Need to find that.

      2. awaldstein

        I’m with you completely on this.My suggestion is forget the research and just get your thinking out and let the comments be your verification and your research.You are on to something here. Been thinking about this.

        1. leigh

          Yah….my clients wouldn’t take it srsly unless there had been a study. ¬†half the problem don’t ya know ūüôā

        2. Mark Essel

          An early adopter is a tight group of folks contingent on the intersection of a specific area of their interest with a potential product. The gross term “early adopter” isn’t applicable to the dozens of new apps and products we come across each week.Identify a handful of hyper enthusiastic and knowledgeable early adopters in your product/market and empower them to conjure the product from your team’s efforts.

          1. Cynthia Schames

            In Alexis Ohanian’s truly amazing “Start Making” branding video (available via General Assembly), he talks about cherishing and engaging the first 100 users. ¬†He says, quite correctly, that somewhere within that first 100 users there will be early and rabid and vocal adopters who can and will become so invested in your product that they basically serve as product development mouthpieces.If you (general you, meaning anyone reading) haven’t seen the video, I highly recommend checking out the series. ¬†It’s chock full of fantastic thoughts, but so far Alexis’ is far and away the best in my opinion.http://startmaking.com/

      3. William Mougayar

        The Moore’s model is either outdated or doesn’t apply to startups, at least not at the granular level.¬†Somewhere between the above Paul Graham curve and Moore’s Crossing the Chasm lies the new one.¬†Leigh- you may need to take a shot at that new curve and lay it as your assumption, then do the research to back it up and fill it with factual nuggets.

  11. Anne Libby

    I love this.   It can probably be applied to other complex skills we can only learn through experience, too.   Thanks.

  12. Damien

    Thanks for posting this, it is so motivating. It’s great to be reminded you are not the only one on a journey to the Promised Land.

    1. fredwilson

      I guess paul graham is Moses

      1. testtest

        yeah right

      2. JimHirshfield

        Moses never made it to the Promised Land. Hmm.  :-/

        1. andyswan

          no one ever does.  Enjoy the ride.

          1. Mark Essel

            ¬†Bah, I’m already there.

        2. matthughes

          Moses was on a different path…He was living a TechCrunch life and actually sought the trough of sorrow. ūüėČ

        3. ShanaC

          But he’s famous, more famous than Joshua (who did make it to the promised land)

      3. LE

        Paul’s a little overconfident and can be parental and bully people on HN. He doesn’t appear to have (at least from what I read) the degree of “kickback” in opposing opinions that keeps your ego in check. Having observed business people over the years that can be really valuable. ¬†Listening and incorporating criticism is important.

        1. fredwilson

          everyone has a style. you’ve captured Paul’s fairly well. but he’s hugely impactful to the startups he works with. he has earned the ability to be the way he is.

          1. Emily Merkle

            hmm‚Ķ.I am not sure that makes sense to me – “earning the ability to be the way he is?” People are who they are sometimes, whether or not the consensus is that they “deserve” to be. I fall into this category. I have grown to know my shortcomings and work to mitigate them. I cam make things happen too. But I will never be okay with knowing I am a micromanaging nightmare and thinking for some reason I have earned the right to act out.¬†or am I reading this wrong?

  13. JLM

    All growth in life is iterative. ¬†We build tom’w on the remains of today and thus it goes.The Trough of Sorrow is also created by things we cannot control — like the economy.I am old enough to have been in business when the economy is good and when you cannot fail. ¬†Cannot fail because the economy is just that damn strong.I hope that happens a couple of more times and soon.Like they used to say in the oil business: ¬†“Dear God, please give me just one more damn boom and I promise not to piss it away!”

    1. fredwilson

      That last line was me in 2002 and god came through for me

      1. John Revay

        10 years #GreatRun

      2. ShanaC

        do you feel like you’re living up to that statement?

    2. Carl Rahn Griffith

      I’m drilling, still…

      1. Mark Essel

        You and me both Carl

    3. LE

      I sometimes run into people who got into real estate (either in sales or investing) in early 2000’s whose experience was totally shaped by thinking things only go up. (A rising tide floats all boats as they say.)¬†People who made investments who didn’t understand how the economy works and what part of the curve they are on.¬†It’s absolutely amazing the projects that developers put up when times are good. The serotonin is flowing and anything seems possible. It’s like anything anywhere will sell out. Then they go bust.¬†

    4. ShanaC

      So keystone, what do you think?

  14. leigh

    One of the things I keep reminding my business partner and myself is that we have to try to stay off the rollar coaster.  The bad stuff can make you feel like the sky is falling and the good stuff makes you believe you can fly.  The trick is to take it all in stride and avoid those highs and lows.  They really can kill ya.  

    1. Patrick Morris

      But trying to avoid the roller coaster may also mean not being able to push yourself to the edge and reach your true potential. Playing it save will only get you so far. 

      1. leigh

        I mean more the emotional roller coaster. ¬†Totally agree about risk. ¬†Disagree that you have to or should go to the emotional edge (of course i do it all the time — just trying though yoga and other things to do it less often)

    2. Ed Freyfogle

      You are kidding right?The roller coaster is the reason to be an entrepreneur. This is living, in its highs and lows. The alternative many employees at big companies face is the perpetual flat line.My business has seen many ups and many downs in the last 6 years (luckily more ups than downs), but no matter how low the lows, I’m always refreshed by the fact that I’ve never been in a meeting where I’ve wished I were sitting on the other side of the table.

      1. leigh

        Junkie ūüėČ

    3. Carl Rahn Griffith

      How popular at the fairground would a linear roller-coaster be, though? ūüėČ

    4. William Mougayar

      You are going through roller coasters, but not willing to admit it ūüôā

  15. Brad Lindenberg

    Cool post Fred! A bit like the Start-up Sperm :)http://www.lindventures.com…¬†

  16. JLM

    Hey, sorry to intrude, but I am looking for the name of a Brooklyn based company owned and run by two women who make white board style cartoons for conferences and meetings.  They draw as the meeting is taking place thereby visualizing the dialogue.They did one in which Fred Wilson was involved.I have lost their website address.Can anyone please help me.  Thanks.

    1. fredwilson

      Hmm. I don’t recall that. I hope someone does

    2. leigh

      see if you can search the term graphic facilitators — if you don’t find them, I use a few people in Canada (East and West Coast) and they might know people nearer to you if you’d like.

      1. JLM

        imagethink.netYou big genius brain person.  Came right up like a walleye.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

        1. Seenator

          Thanks JLM & Leigh. this was quite serendipitous! We were looking for somebody like to explain a product of ours to customers. I will be reaching out to them as well!Thank you! Thank you! 

        2. leigh

          extra like :):)

    3. James Schaffer

      perhaps you mean¬†http://inkfactorystudio.com/Not in Brooklyn, but it sounds like the company you’re talking about.

    4. John Revay

      http://www.imagethink.net/g…¬† – click on the first image in the gallery – mentions Fred, USV, investment thesis….and Dennis & 4Sq

  17. andyswan

    “Quiet your mindSoak it all inIt’s a game you can’t winEnjoy the ride”Zac Brown Band…http://www.youtube.com/watc

  18. awaldstein

    ‘Just do it’ ¬†is the greatest tagline of all time.It’s for each of us every day about what’s right in front of us.

    1. testtest

      yep. came at a time when people were disillusioned with talk. striking a cultural note

  19. Oscar Bueno

    Cool article. That curve shows how I felt through the whole process too (still). Scary stuff but it helps having complimenting co-founders.

  20. awaldstein

    Simplifying the service = discovering core customer behaviors.Products that explode into communities are often little more than platforms for customer’s connections. The first 100 real users are the key.

    1. Emily Merkle

      Key is moving forward without churn.

  21. PhilipSugar

    I have always said the difference between working at a startup and BigCo is the highs are so much higher and the lows are so much lower.  You have to remember that when you are experiencing both.

    1. John Clyman

      So true. I ended up adopting “regression to the mean” as a sort of mantra. No matter how much today sucked, statistically speaking, tomorrow was bound to be better. And no matter how high we were riding, tomorrow we were bound to come partway down to earth.

  22. Jen Berrent

    Thanks for posting this, Fred.  I already sent it to a client who I was talking off the ledge at 10 PM last night (founder issues).  As a lawyer to start-ups, I always say my job is 1/3 legal, 1/3 business (giving practical advice) and 1/3 psychology Рand helping founders get through the roller-coaster is a large part of the psychology.  I frequently remind entrepreneurs that they are the 1% of the 10% Рonly 10% of people want to start a business and of those, only 1% actually do (those percentages are totally made up, but directionally I think they are correct).

  23. panterosa,

    A few months back, some one posted another graphic curve like this with the first uptick as ‘uninformed elation’ and the first crash as ‘informed depression’ and the trough was if you threw in the towel. The neck uptick was ‘informed elation’. I forget the exact terms but it was like that. Has any one seen that one? It was great and would be intersecting to overlay on the curve.

    1. Mark Essel

      I know Steve Blank has a chart like this, not sure if he uses those terms though.

  24. Aaron Klein

    There is no substitute for your product meeting the user. And I’ve learned over the years that no product survives first contact with users. :)We chose to err on the side of shipping early, and that feedback was absolutely critical to helping us get from “shows a faint hint of promise but really sucks” to “we’ve still got a long way to go, but pretty magical.”The tough part for me has been accepting that I can’t salvage every user. Those who weren’t visionary enough to see where we were going would write me notes like “first impressions matter, and you lost yours.” Hard to find an iteration point from that.But here’s the good news: for every user who can’t see past the product you’ve shipped, there are about six¬†Andy Swans and Arnold Waldsteins who are visionary enough to see where you’re going and help you develop brilliant insights on how to get there.That’s what makes both the AVC community and the broader startup community so great.So don’t hold back. Ship. Learn. Improve. Repeat.(A “CC of thanks” to¬†@andyswan:disqus¬†and¬†@awaldstein:disqus¬†…)

    1. karen_e

      Awww!

      1. Robert Thuston

        Was in TRO Jung’s Bham office yesterday. ¬†Mentioned your name to… someone… after they said they were in marketing. ¬†If I could only remember their name. ¬†Chow…

    2. FAKE GRIMLOCK

      DUMP CUSTOMERS THAT HATE PRODUCT ONLY WAY FIND ONES THAT NOT! #FINDNOFASTER

      1. Aaron Klein

        Exactly. Well put.

    3. John Revay

      Nice Job Aaron – very nicely said.

  25. Rich Ullman

    This sounds oh so familiar (in a good way)…because its true.¬† I constantly describe start ups to people outside of the experience as a roller coaster rider.¬† And when you’re on the ride, those wiggles feel a lot bigger (and perhaps more stressful, more fun) than the diagram would indicate. ūüôā

    1. Carl Rahn Griffith

      And it can’t really depict a pivot moment ūüėČ

  26. Carl Rahn Griffith

    Nice.Be interesting to do a Magic Quadrant kind of rendering of startup land. I might well have a bash of that, if not already done elsewhere? Kind of like a SWOT visualisation for a hypothetical startup.Re: the curve/process shown – I have been up and down those so many times I feel giddy! ūüėČ

  27. Max Yoder

    “[I]t took him years to get to the promised land. But he is there now…¬†This was done by releasing a less than perfect product to the market, finding a few customers who wanted a less than perfect product, and then listening carefully to those customers to get to the ideal product.”¬†You can’t start a fire without a spark.

  28. Brandon Marker

    Excellent graphic. Thanks for sharing.

  29. jason wright

    long is the way and hard that out of hell leads up to light – Milton, Paradise Lost

  30. Gary Rushin

    Very good advise. Too often many are discouraged. But if they believe, they will achieve.

    1. testtest

      “But if they believe, they will achieve.”basically, nonsense

  31. Seenator

    Fred,Great article and sent it our team especially about sharing with the market before prime-time. I have been saying this for ages but the moment they saw you say it, they immediately got it :)Quick q about your line ” the answer was simplifying the service. Taking features out.”¬†I know this definitely applies in the consumer internet market, What are your thoughts on the enterprise market? Isn’t it more features the better?Having been in the consumer & enterprise market, I find that enterprise markets are easier to find product/market fit.¬†If one develops a feature X in the enterprise market & the customer doesnt like that feature and wants feature Y, then we can just build that feature Y with another tab for e.g. Its an additive process although the user experience suffers because of feature overload but that is “acceptable” in the enterprise market (Refer to the Steve Jobs comment about the decision makers in Enterprise IT are different from the users and thats why the user interface is so complicated. Decision makers use a “checklist” approach of seeing who has the most features as opposed to if they are the “right” features).¬†However, in consumer internet market, UI/Feature design is everything. If Customer doesnt like feature X and wants feature Y, then one has to go back and actually remove Feature X, redesign the product to incorporate Y, re-position/re-brand etc. It was way more complicated to pivot.

    1. fredwilson

      i think the enterprise is becoming more like the consumer market

  32. Richard

    Sent wrong post a minute ago (sorry..watch that copy and past feature). What is most interesting about this graph is the “survivorship” bias, particularly with respect to the techcrunch spike. Does the spike get you through the trough because of the early victory? Does the graph differ for those withou the spike? Also it would seem important to know “how” the spike was accomished, e.g, first mover, $$ spent, PR etc.

  33. Rohan

    Is it only me or are the Disqus threads appearing all over the place?

    1. Cynthia Schames

      it’s not just you, Disqus is clearly having a snitty day.

  34. William Mougayar

    Running a startup is like going through a series of Brick Walls you have to knock down, one by one. What helps is knowing ahead of time where you really are, so you don’t stay there longer than necessary. This means you need to also rely on close supporters that will help you in seeing these obstacles, and you need to MEASURE everything you do, so you know exactly when something isn’t working.¬†With plenty of warning, you can go through the brick walls or jump out of the ditches with new momentum. You have to keep Trying and Trying, but every next attempt must be filled with the wisdom and lessons of the previous ones.And along side this curve, there could be another MENTAL TOUGHNESS curve, and that one needs to be UP all the time. All other things being equal, mental toughness is what lets you go through these ups and downs.

    1. Modify Watches

      Thanks for this, the “Mental toughness” curve has been the one I’m trying to navigate. Team team team seems like a big piece of that one

    2. Alex Murphy

      sometimes though, instead of knocking down the brick wall, try going through the door or walking around. ¬†In other words, you don’t have to fight every battle to win the war.

  35. Eric

    Fred,As you have exposure to lots of opportunities — where do you like to play. When does USV typically become an investor in that curve?I’m guessing at different stages depending on a few factors like – founders past, excitement for the market et al.. ¬†Still, I’d bet there is a preferred place for entry. Thoughts?

  36. Barry Nolan

    I appear to have somehow missed the Techcrunch beatification jumped straight to the Trough of Sorrow.  

  37. Anthony Frasier

    Such a great post, and something I needed to see. Thanks.

  38. Morgan Warstler

    Right now dealing with launch of browser-size product.Figuring out how to simplify it is driving me crazy.

  39. William Mougayar

    I’m surprised that TRACTION isn’t part of this curve. User/Customer Traction is the ultimate measure of success and I would have inserted it right after the Promised Land.

    1. Mark Essel

      Don’t forget monetization, it’s not automatic by any means.

      1. Carl

        “That’s why we raised venture capital. It buys you time to focus on the product so you can put off thinking about monetization.” [email protected] #SXSWApparently… :-/

        1. Mark Essel

          hah, a little traction goes a long way.

          1. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Indeed, Mark ;-)I was only on iPhone last night hence posting that as a ‘Guest’ – wish Disqus would address that, by the way.I found the quote alarming. I hope it was taken out of context.

      2. William Mougayar

        True. Probably part of the Promised Land.

  40. Jim Semick

    “Taking features out. Reducing the value proposition to a clear and simple use case.”It so pains me when I see this, thinking about the engineering and product effort involved. I’ve been there, and it hurts. I chalked it up to learning, but it was expensive. Now the the customer development and lean startup models are helping startups learn (or fail) early and cheap. No guarantee they won’t hit the trough of sorrow, but they are increasing they odds of getting through it by thinking¬†minimum viable product early on.

  41. bsoist

    “Taking features out.” Brilliant!I have always taught my kids (both writers), that art is about discrimination. Deciding what to leave out is what makes you the artist.

    1. Michael Rattner

      My mom was engaged in a creative project and she asked me for advice. I told her that she had to figure out which of her children to kill.She told me it was a horrible metaphor.

    2. Cost2Drive

       Steve Jobs would agree

  42. Steve Poland

    Love that last paragraph Fred!

  43. michaelgalpert

    “You are going to have to go on the roller coaster ride at some point. Might as well start now.”def agree with this sentiment but feel its necessary once on the roller coaster ride to step aside and observe if you went on the right ride or choose a different one.

  44. XtraInvestor.com

    Your article fits totally what our community has been going through. Users gave the impression that they liked¬†the site, but the activity (posted comments) somehow didn’t take off. We stripped off features – not too much happened. Then a member asked for a feature – we were a bit reluctant – but thought we might give it a shot. Turned out that it was really the activity booster; logged in time boosted by 51% in the two last months, comments posted growth by several hundred of percent and active users spending an average of more than 24 hours on the site in February. So listen carefully to members/customers, do the necessary testing and work on it.

  45. Jason Dea

    This is written in much, much clearer language than the Gartner hype cycles ūüôā

  46. Alex Murphy

    One day at a time.Sure, you need to raise money, hire a UX expert, find more engineers, raise money, get customers, raise money, do three biz dev deals and raise money.¬†But, what are you going to do today? ¬†What can be done today to make things a little bit better. ¬†One more contact, one more idea, a new post, a tweak of the language. ¬†Over time as these daily changes are made, the ugly duckling grows up.So, do something meaningful today, and then do it again tomorrow … one day at a time.

  47. hypermark

    Grope. Ship the idea. Fix. Iterate.¬†Many assume that the brilliant idea falls from the sky and is born ready to conquer the planet. More often than not, a nugget is uncovered, dog turns out to be tail, and not enough people care out of the gate.It’s what you do AFTER you receive that first punch in the nose that defines you. Does the blood dripping send you to the corner Defeated, or does it tell you, “Game On.”It’s the difference between Pose and Performance.

  48. mike gilfillan

    Fred, in another post, would you elaborate on the “Trough of Sorrow”?¬†¬† It sounds like a long dark period and maybe those thinking of starting their own business for the first time would enjoy hearing more from you (and others) on this.Here is a similar chart that I’ve used to keep me focused:http://viniciusvacanti.com/

  49. Daniel Wolfson

    As my old boss @lawrencelenihan used to say, the only time a start-up goes in a straight line is when its down

  50. Paul Graham

    I should mention that the only one of the labels on that graph that I wrote was “trough of sorrow.” ¬†The rest were added by Trevor Blackwell later as jokes.

    1. jmkovarik

      but that was the most poetic part

    2. fredwilson

      it’s such a great framework Paul. thanks to you and Trevor for creating it.

  51. ShanaC

    What if there is no buyer – does this chart hold true for the stages of the company as it gets bigger and releases more stuff?Maybe this should be “chart for releasing products”

  52. Matthew Lenhard

    First of all, thanks for the¬†inspiration¬†Fred. After winning start up nations most innovative business of 2011 and getting featured on MSN my own start up started to¬†experience¬†the “trough of sorrow”. I thought this was unnatural and not a good sign, but hearing that most start ups go through this is reassuring.¬†Anyways we’re getting ready to release a huge improvement for the site and have been working harder then ever¬†so hopefully we’re ready for the next phase. It sure has been a¬†roller coaster¬†so far, but then again also¬†the most fun coaster I’ve ever ridden.

  53. Phil Fremont-Smith

    Amen!

  54. Rebecca

    ¬†At the risk of sounding like a woman, this is the same advice I always give to friends wondering whether or not it’s the perfect time to have a baby.¬† There’s never a right time because you just can’t really plan for how it will turn out – how it will change your life, what they will need to thrive, what issues they may have, what demands will be made of you that you never expected.¬† Having launched a start up this past October and ridden the PR and press high, come down to reality to anxiously obsess about our user/conversion stats and now to be in the wiggling away phase of slow but optimistic growth, I can say that knowing we’re in it for the long haul makes all the difference.¬† And of course I could say the same thing raising my nine year-old twin girls. But thanks for the reminder that you have to be nimble and determined at the same time.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Nimble and determined. ¬†Thanks for distilling it down. ¬†Congrats on your wiggles… and good luck!

    2. Alex Murphy

      It is not a risk to sound like a woman. 

  55. goldwerger

    It’s all about the wiggles…:)

  56. Alex Murphy

    Getting through the trough of sorrow is the key.  As Steve Jobs said, it requires passion.  Great 1.5 min video on his rules for success.http://www.youtube.com/watc

  57. mahia - facebook

    interesting that good art

  58. Douglas Crets

    Where’s the part on the graph where the consumer loves the product and it gives them progress in their lives? Why is everything geared towards the profit and the liquidity event?¬†This kind of makes me feel that VCs are the arbiters of knowledge because they distribute money and business insight, but aren’t consumers the real arbiters of knowledge? The more the product is geared to them, the smarter the entrepreneur becomes.I don’t mean to harsh on what you do, Fred. And I know this was kind of a lovely chuckling look at the rise of a startup, but I wanted to throw that out there.¬†How can we gear the startup mentality to seeking knowledge from consumers? I had a sixteen year old from India tell me about a QR app he’s working on and he said every VC he’s talked to has told him if he wants to grow big in QR, he needs to take that to UK and USA.¬†How? The people who use QR super well are all in Asia, where people live on their phones. Why would a VC tell a kid to turn his back on this home market for building a great product?¬†

    1. fredwilson

      the end user is the ultimate arbiter. and VCs give bad advice all the time. i do it.

  59. FAKE GRIMLOCK

    LESS ALWAYS MORE! JUST HAVE TO FIND RIGHT LESS. #LEANUX #LEANSTARTUP

    1. Donna Brewington White

      That’s actually pretty profound. ¬†Not all lesses are equal.

      1. fredwilson

        the grimster wins the profound per word every time

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK

          ME TRY.

  60. Dave Hole

    I can not agree more with this, we shipped our product early exclusively for iOS (iPhone/iPad universal app) and observed the behaviours of our initial users. It is painful to look back on these early versions, as every subsequent release we ship feels like it should have been the first. Since then, we have have come through close to 10 iterations and are about to ship 2.0I have penned some of the most heartfelt emails to (non-paying) customers when our systems have let them down. I used to dread waking in the morning and checking my email. But without the feedback of those initial customers, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Our systems are rock-solid, we have a full web back-end and web app, multi-device syncing, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress integration. Our apps even keep an entire copy of the business’ data-set and can continue operating if they lose power/internet.Business’ now trust us to run their day to day operations, and we now have our first wave of paying customers. That trust was earned and is such an incredible feeling!Our customers have shown us which features are important to them, features that we wouldn’t have dreamed of adding. They have shaped the product into what they need it to be. Rest assured, there have been many requests that never see the light of day :)We take our ‘Feedback / Requests’ button very seriously, and every email is answered, no matter how outlandish. We have had requests that initially, we thought were crazy, but after some rationalisation, wondered how they were ever not part of the roadmap!I love JFSI, that is my new motto!

  61. David John Hall

    Very nicely said — and applicable to all areas where action is required.

  62. awguo

    Very funny!

  63. Ronwah

    This is good and of value.  The basis of any good graph is the axis having names.  I see the horizontal axis is time.  What is the name of the vertical axis?

  64. Youssef Rahoui

    The simplification point is true and it resonates with me. Users and customers feel better, and that’s the most important.But there is a hidden benefit to simplification: you and your team feel better, your company works better. Everything is simpler: what you should do and not do, your message, the motivation, etc.The best part of it is when you talk about a feature and your team tells you: “No, that’s not what we stand for, it’s too complex, it will just confuse our users!”

  65. D Lombardo

    great post! I am going to launch the first release of a less than perfect service in a few weeks…will let you now¬†

  66. elliottdahan

    Points up the absolute need for any potential entrepreneur to ask one question first – “can I handle manic/depression and paranoia and do I truly enjoy collaborative commiseration ?”

    1. Emily Merkle

      ….and I can definitively say to that: Yes, Yes, and Yes!

  67. Josh Ledgard

    We found this to be very true for our startup. ¬†We probably launched sooner than most people would have suggested. ¬†We had very few customers in the first three months.¬†It was essentially glorified public beta… but because we were charging money the feedback was useful and used to make a product that three months later has been on a great growth curve.¬†So that’s the long way of saying that i second the advice.¬†Josh LedgardFounder – Kickofflabs

  68. Sync Bin

    Ahh man , I am at the stage of sorrow :(, take me to the promised land by contributing towards my project plz ūüôā http://igg.me/p/73534?a=465653

  69. Esayas Gebremedhin

    Funny I had another visualization of “the promised land”: totally from inner image perspective:¬†http://esayas.com/post/1861….What I figured out is that the downs are the most attractive situations startups have to aspire. The downs lead you to great iterations that put a smile on users faces. I think no ORIGINAL startup will get to “the promised land” without failing to deliver what users want. I think there is a massive positive side to down phases.

  70. Marc Brodeur

    I hate the “Trough of Sorrow”. It sucks.

  71. Joel Cheuoua

    Very inspiring story. As Steve Jobs said “The problem¬†with the Internet¬†startup craze¬†isn’t that too many people are starting companies; it’s that too many people aren’t sticking with it.”

  72. Alex Murphy

    Fred,where in here do you like to invest?what are the different types of traction you see along this same curve?

    1. fredwilson

      the promised land, of course. but it’s getting expensive to invest there.

  73. Steve

    My experience as an investor would suggest that the valuation curve for a start-up mirrors the development curve for a start-up

  74. Cost2Drive

    funny – I just wrote a blog post about this a few days ago titled the Trough of Sorrow ¬† http://cost2go.com/2012/03/…I actually love this graph as I think it captures the phases of a startup very well (unfortunately the Trough is the longest phase).¬† Right now we’re either emerging or its another one of those diabolical wiggles of false hope…time will tell.and lo, though I walk through the trough of sorrow, I will fear no competitor, so long as Paul thou art with me…LOL

  75. Rob Harvey

    Great post, thank you. ¬†This isn’t new info, a lot of us know it, but we ALL need to be reminded of it, constantly, myself included. ¬†Thx again. ¬†

  76. Robert Thuston

    Note to self… this is the start up journey… don’t forget it, and revisit it.

  77. Daniele Calabrese

    I wonder where¬†@soundtracker:twitter¬†is in the curve ūüôā

  78. Philip Wattis

    Love that chart.Such a fantastic reflection of the lifecycle of a startup.

  79. Javier

    The startup curve is so similar to our reports that I want to share it. Are we in the wiggles of false hope or The Promised Land? In the next months we will see :)For now, we are registering 100% more users than in January, 100.000 reviews/rates per week, raising a round so we can propagate the good results and about to release the business model with over 100k users. Anyone interested in investing? ;)Good months ahead!

  80. Glenn Gutierrez

    Fred you are awesome as usual! It’s been a while since I checked out a post, but mainly because one of the posts you wrote was saying something about ~ stop reading blogs and get stuff done. Haha.¬†

    1. fredwilson

      i stick with that advice!

  81. Jon Michael Miles

    Posted on Chime.in –¬†http://chime.in/user/K/chim…I love how Fred and AVC are becoming part of popular culture. That’s twice in a month I’ve seen this forum linked out there on the internets at a site that wasn’t just business.

  82. dv

    The only way out is through. 

  83. abtfulmind

    One possible downside of “getting on with it” may be branding…adoption is easier with a clear, single value offering; but if that offering does not monetize easily, you may have to rebrand at some point in order to broaden your market, and change your offering.¬† Foursquare is stuck in the trap of a check-in app.¬† Shopsavvy is the barcode scanner/price-comparison app.¬† They are both great successes in adoption and buzz, but can Foursquare ever make money?¬† They’ve tried veering bus dev with everything from the History channel to tracking the daily run you go on.¬† Granted, the fast-to-fail paradigm has overshadowed everything, and early adopter patterns, whether indicative of a monetary future or not, drive funding.¬† So, that reason alone might quickly push aside any reason for ‘waiting.’

    1. fredwilson

      i have no doubt that foursquare can easily monetize. any service that knows where you are and what venues you like is a monetization goldmine

  84. anioko1

    I am so glad I saw this post today, it renews some hope for the day inspite of the challenges of trying to start a company. I should print this out and place it on a wall to remind me where we are. By the way I am working a business network http://www.ziliot.com, its quiet challenging knowing there are too many quacks in the market not solving the problem. This makes it hard for people to ever believe someother person can solve the problem. I would appreciate positive feedbacks from reputable entrepreneurs. When I look back I still see the problem and see we are getting close to solve the problem. The problem might not exist in the Silicon Valley or in the USA but it certainly exist in other countries.

  85. Rob

    Hi Fred, fyi we’re working with a start-up which addresses the commercial viability of startups from the outset. ¬†Theseus BusinessLab‚ĄĘ is an integrated suite of mobile strategicand tactical apps to fast track emerging businesses to funding and to market. ¬†Details at theseusdm.com¬†

  86. Andy Glew

    http://blog.andy.glew.ca/20http://cdixon.org/2011/12/0…¬†I remember first observing this when I worked at¬†Bessemer. For example, there was a startup that supplied services to video websites. For years, the company soldiered along, barely growing. Then, suddenly, YouTube blew up and this company took off along with it.¬†As a founder, these exogenous shocks are out of your control, but you can 1) understand what exogenous shocks you depend on, 2) try to guess when those shocks will hit, 3) manage your runway so you survive long enough for them to hit.This sounds very much related to my classification of prophecy or prediction:There are 4 types of prophets:(1) False prophets who are always or usually wrong, or are right by random chance. These are common.(2) Accurate prophets, who can predict exactly what is going to happen, exactly when it is going to happen. ¬†These are exceedingly rare.(3) Eventual prophets, whose predictions, oft repeated, almost always eventually come true. ¬†Here are some from the past, and some from the near future: “Computers will fit on your desk”. ¬†“Tablet computers will one day be popular.” “Some day, computers will be worn, not carried, and will display on your glasses, contact lenses, directly onto the back of your eyes, or direct neural connect”. Nobody with a clue will be surprised by the last set of eventual predictions coming true: the problem is knowing when, and how. ¬†How to make it happen, and how to profit by it happening.The final class of prophet is, I think, the most interesting, because it is sometimes attainable and more useful than anything except accurate prophecy:(4) Conditional or contingent prophets: ¬†they may not be able to predict exactly when something will happen, but they can make predictions about dependency graphs of events. ¬†For example, referring to Chris Dixon’s blog post “If internet video ever takes off (like YouTube eventually did) then there will be a market for video services for websites.” ¬†Or let me try: “Contact lens displays may take off (a) when nearly transparent pixels dense enough to be circa 1Mp on the size of a contact lens can be achieved, (b) when signals (whether by wire or non-wire (not necessarily electromagnetic wireless) can draw (not refresh) such pixels on a device, and (c) when a standby device <0.1W powered by energy harvesting can always run, and wake up a more power huingry device when needed).When I helped start Intel’s Microprocessor Research Lab I created several such dependency graphs. ¬†Note: not just simple chains, since there may be more than one way at arriving at a result.¬†

    1. Emily Merkle

      chance favors the prepared mind

  87. David

    Like other startup curve drawings (see “uninformed optimism” curve), this one shows all the activity as occuring above the baseline.Having lived through this time and time again, I’d say that we should be honest… the crashes will easily take you below the baseline.In fact, if you count the baseline as an economic starting point, it’s ALL below the baseline until you get to break even.The “Tech Crunch of Innovation” may be exciting, but its also fraught with fatigue, bewilderment, dead-ends, and blind alleys.¬† The only sexy part of a startup is being able to say “I’m doing a startup”.¬† When you’re not at a cocktail party, you can count on feeling under-water.

  88. Bungee Loyalty

    Fred-Brilliant article. We developed a new product called Bungee (http://bungeeloyaltyprogram…) about 3 years ago and actually spun it off into its own company about a year ago.We have gone through all of the stages you provide on your graph and “appear” to be arriving at the “promised land.” We are about to land a massive contract that will change the face of our company. I was told by a friend of mine with 40+ years of running a successful transportation company that “having your own business is like riding a canoe through the ocean” and very different from be an employee. Riding through the troughs of sorry for us were the challenges of continue to grow with investments of our own personal cash in addition to the ups and downs of pitching deals and some going through and other deals lost. Promised land here we come-Dave.¬†

  89. Bungee Loyalty

    Fred-Brilliant article. Right on the money.Let me share a story. Having started my own firm Bungee Loyalty Programs (http://www.bungeeloyaltypro…) after 20 years in the Fortune 500 I can tell you that I have been through almost all of these stages. A wise friend of mine who had a very successful transportation in Chicago kept insisting on me starting my own business.I did not dive in until I went through a down-sizing. I could tell you I never looked back but that would simply not be true. The “troughs of sorry” including using personal finances when times were tight to maintain and grow the business and maintaining perseverance through the inevitable ups and downs of sales can wear on entrepreneurs but eventually can pay-off. We are about to “ink” a large deal that will change the face of our firm forever and take us to the “promised land.” Thanks for the insights-Dave Gee, CEO-Bungee Loyalty Programs

  90. Sue Ginsburg

    If there was a way to legitimately short circuit the painful parts of a startup, there’d be a lot of lost learning, and that would be detrimental to the business, right? ¬†What they say is true……..”What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” ¬† Thanks for sharing, Rick!

  91. Christopher Erckert

    …And if you broke that down on a daily time line it would have the ups and down of day trader.

  92. Anne Marsden

    Fred, I have worked in – and now often work¬†with – start-ups, and I couldn’t agree more.¬†Perservering¬†through¬†the trough of sorrow is tough and¬†necessary. ¬†From my perspective (in Sales and Marketing) so many¬†companies¬†don’t¬†make it through because they won’t adjust their messaging (and often their product business model) to fit the market. ¬†Rather they keep beating¬†their¬†heads¬†against the prospects’ doors¬†trying¬†to convince them to change their minds, to think about it differently. ¬†If your prospects aren’t¬†having¬†a fairly quick “Ah Ha”¬†moment¬†when shown¬†your¬†new, shiny product/service (like most of us did when we saw the first IPhone), then it’s your job to change message, not expect the market to change their perceptions.

    1. fredwilson

      doing the same thing and expecting different results doesn’t work!

  93. RecruitingANIMAL

    Is there anything worse than a website that plays media automatically as soon as you land? Dude why do you have that video in the top right corner?

    1. fredwilson

      there is no autoplay video on AVC

    2. fredwilson

      i should say “there is no audio” that autoplaysvideo is not obnoxious when it is silentand the funds that come in from these ads go to charityabout $40k per year these days

  94. Mark Essel

    “You can overcome a lot of the wiggles of false hope if you talk daily with prospects and customers and develop the path to sustainable revenue.”There’s a lot in this one line. I’ve focused exclusively on increasing the area of products I can create, without a customer compass that will never end. Identifying and selling to A customer is huge. Get 10 and you can convince others what you already believe. I’m still sold on Jawaya, look forward to where you next take it.http://www.culturefocus.com

  95. Matt A. Myers

    Finding the problem to focus on I find has been so important to remind myself with. It’s giving you the intent, guiding your intent – and giving you a point of focus to return to, “does this help solve the problem?”I’m happy the group is going so well!

  96. Cynthia Schames

    “you have to build your own success, and only take capital to amplify it.”There’s genius in that line, and it deserved its own call-out.

  97. FAKE GRIMLOCK

    VC MAKE IDEA MORE, NOT BETTER! 

  98. muratcannoyan

    Sometimes I feel like the “believing in” is even more critical than filling a specific need. Lots of variables around filling a need. ¬†

  99. Matt A. Myers

    I’m doing what I should be doing then. ūüôā

  100. Emily Merkle

    Hey now, I can speak to delusions with the best of them! Delusion gets a bad rap.