Startup Truths: Users Will Determine How Your Product Is Used

#startup truths

Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    Actually, that’s NOT the right intended use for Ethereum. That conclusion is wrong.Ethereum’s intent is to be a platform for building decentralized applications that run smart contracts. One of these applications could be to issue your own cryptocurrency via the generation of Tokens that serve a given purpose. This is all explained on the Ethereum main page.

    1. adamludwin

      As both Fred and I are saying, it doesn’t matter what your original intent is. All that matters is how it’s used.

      1. mplsvbhvr

        I see both sides of the point.. but isn’t saying ETH’s use case is tokens a bit like saying the internet’s use case is chat rooms, IRC channels, and e-mail? I’m not denying tokens are going to be a huge part of the ecosystem, and I think they’re the closest thing to a “Netscape moment” we’ve had in crypto thus far – I just think it’s a bit too early to call it and see what this technology is truly capable off.Personally, I see the trust present in a smart contract/blockchain platform to be necessary if we’re ever going to start really diving into human augmentation… But maybe that’s a separate discussion I should have with Elon…

  2. Steve Goldstein

    True of any new product, not just those created by a start-up.

  3. creative group

    William Mougayar:we defer to you on anything crypto, Blockchain, etc. But uses do change depending on how the end user uses a service, product or how the eco-system adapts to the changing needs.There are numerous companies which have been successful are not the same company founded.The refusal to evolve part is usually a cause of failure.

    1. William Mougayar

      My position is in my comment. Basically I felt that Adam mis-characterized Ethereum’s goal. Tokens aren’t the only use for Ethereum.

      1. adamludwin

        Did I? I said the goal is a world computer, i.e. decentralized application platform. That is the founding team’s goal. But different than the reality of how it’s used today. Also I am not passing judgement on this – just observing it! Agree w/Fred’s point that users tell you what you are actually going to build/focus on.

        1. William Mougayar

          But platform for Dapps with smart contracts is not the same as a world computer. World computer was the means to that end. Sorry for being pedantic.

          1. Twain Twain

            Better to be known for tokens than known as the new JAVA or shiny new IDE because Joe+Jane Mainstream know what tokens and credits are.ETH can’t be a world computer (sorry). The reason is Google is on course to make Quantum computer breakthroughs in 2017.…It fundamentally changes the game of what we understand to be “universal machines” according to Turing, Shannon and Von Neumann’s definitions.

  4. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:Oh where oh where is the AVC post oh where oh where can it be?Oh it is here.Thanks(Blog reading and posting withdrawals)

  5. LE

    What I call ‘the thing that leads to the thing’. So much of life is like this. This is actually why it’s bullshit to think that when you are in some kind of growth phase or starting out (right out of college) you don’t have to work hard or all that you can and whenever you can. If you are in your 20’s and you need rest and relaxation you will disadvantaged against the person who is working non-stop, unless you have some super unique advantage going for you. You will get plenty of chances if you succeed to take it easy later on. Of course if you can’t take the work then by all means don’t work as hard. Not everyone is cut the same way.You will need to do 20x things in order to hit on something that sticks sometimes.Edit: Of course it all depends on what you are looking for in life. Just don’t be jealous and complain later when people have things that you want. If you don’t want those things or that type of lifestyle and you are happy then you have done the right thing.

  6. LE

    Users Will Determine How Your Product Is UsedExcept when users are the product then you will determine how they are used.

  7. Emil Sotirov

    Because people want capabilities – not use cases.

    1. Sebastien Latapie

      Makes me think of the recent blog post by Ben Evans on not even wrong ways to dismiss technology – a good read:

  8. Rick Mason

    I think successful companies do a disservice to the entrepreneur world when they rewrite their early history and give the impression that all the great ones get product market fit right from the start.I know of several founders who tried up to five completely different businesses before they found one with traction, now they may have all been related and perhaps even reused some of the source code but they were dramatically different from where they thought they were going to go. Quite simply it’s a journey and a quite natural one.

    1. JLM

      .I agree more with you than you do with yourself.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  9. Pointsandfigures

    Steve Jobs didn’t agree. Not saying his way is the right way though

  10. JimHirshfield

    This is a reblog retweet…or a re-retweet. Where’s the blog post? Is this Twitter? Oh, it’s Tumblr, I think.

    1. Twain Twain

      Yeeeeeees! THIS. We like it when Fred explains his reasoning and adds dimensionality to the discussion.

  11. sigmaalgebra

    That commonly in practice that has been the situation does not mean that it should be or has to be.Or, in startup land, what we are looking for is the exceptional. The major VCs are looking for $1+ billion, and like to add 1 or 2 zeros and are looking to add 3 of them. So, did I mention exceptional?So, for anything that exceptional, there are just two options: (1) Buy darts by the trainload and throw them and hope — lots of trainloads. (2) Do good project planning, design, and execution. For more, pick a good problem — good problem selection is one of the most important parts of success. Get a good solution, the first good or much better. Here might exploit applied math, physical science, social science (don’t laugh; there may be some possibilities), cell biology, medical science, computing, computer science, etc.The US military continues to supply some of the best lessons on doing exceptional projects: E.g, at the start of the Manhattan Project, they didn’t pay much attention to the history of bomb making. Instead, what the Manhattan Project was doing was so exceptional with such good project planning, design, and execution that what went before in bomb making was just irrelevant. So, sure, no doubt there were lots of lessons common in prior bomb making to be learned, but for a really exceptional project those lessons were just irrelevant.Or, need some painting done. So, talk to a lot of house painters, inside, outside, decorative, etc. Get lots of lessons common in painting. Then for the ceiling, hire Michelangelo, and, curiously he doesn’t pay much attention to the house painters.For exceptional projects, looking at empirical patterns in the past of non-exceptional projects is close to a waste of time. And for exceptional projects in the past, they are so few and different that good lessons for the future will be tough to find.Still there are ways to do exceptional projects. Indeed, with these ways, if the first steps are solid, then the rest should be routine and low risk. So, sure, for exceptional projects, those first steps are the challenging part.

  12. Bruce Warila

    This is a post about Duct Tape.

    1. jason wright


    2. JLM

      .I was in the combat engineers wherein duct tape was the equivalent of the host at Holy Communion — the Bread of Life.I used to order duct tape by the pallet load and never had enough. The supply sergeant used to just put in an order without my even asking. He used to call me “Lt Duct Tape.”Everybody thought it was funny until they had to come begging for some. I once traded ten rolls for a KaBar knife.To this day, I have a case of it in my garage.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  13. cavepainting

    Like most other things in life, if you consciously seek the truth of where the opportunity is, you will iterate to it. Some people are lucky, naturally intuitive, or have done their homework really well, and find it early; some others eventually get to it after multiple cycles. Either way, you are unlikely to land on a successful idea unless you listen carefully to the market and the users and learn to read between the lines to understand what they want or need.

      1. PhilipSugar

        Yes I agree fully, but I would add once you have built it then you have to listen to your customers. Henry Ford did not with “you can have any color you want as long as it is black”. That lost him market share to Chevrolet. Steve Jobs did not with no bigger screen, that lost him market share to Samsung.It is a balance, but if you build something because it’s what you believe and then listen to your customers that is magic.

        1. JLM

          .Henry Ford: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”There is a difference between first mover advantage and continuing product development.Tesla had first mover advantage and a Hell of a product, but now they have Volvo, Jaguar, MB and others awakened, energized, and much bigger than them.Tesla may not make it.The Tesla stock price is, until now, a perfect storm.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. Donna Brewington White

            Excellent point.

        2. Twain Twain

          As time’s passed, I’ve arrived at a view that original invention is different from market implementation and improvement iteration.At UBS, I created something that was ahead of its time. I had 100% ownership of it so I baked in the feedback loops into the product’s technical roadmap. https://uploads.disquscdn.c…However, I’m also aware there are examples where the inventor doesn’t have that level of ownership and control over how their invention is improved upon.

      2. cavepainting

        True, but the Henry Ford quote needs to be seen in perspective and often misquoted to imply that talking to customers is a waste of time.Let us differentiate between asking customers about the problem/need and the solution. What customers would have told him about their problem and need (we need to go a lot faster, the challenges of buying and managing horses, inability to carry multiple people, etc..) are all integral to understanding the problem Ford was trying to solve.Founders need to always be asking customers about their problems and needs and what is lacking today. Asking them about solutions beyond their current levels of perception might not make sense until you have a real prototype or product. Beyond that, you still need to talk to them regularly to iterate to the best possible solution.If not, it engenders hubris that leads to failure.

        1. Twain Twain

          To what extent did Musk ask customers before he decided to create Tesla, re-usable space rockets, neural lace, hyper loop and a boring company?Compare this with Disqus where the product is a commenting system plugin that most people would understand as a concept. The founders asked Fred what he needed, delivered on that and got his investment.There are some hi-tech products where it’s not possible to ask Joe+Jane Mainstreet. The experts like Musk and his teams just get on with inventing it and shipping it to market.And then there are other products where it would be foolish not to get audience input early, e.g. fmcg ones like a soft drink. That’s where my product invention journey started as a teenager.At hackathons, I’ve despatched my team at 8AM (no Sunday lie-in for them, LOL; and he was a superstar in what he delivered) to interview food truck owners because I had an idea to help them track their finances with Capital One’s API.But with the machine learning ones, it’s about a handful of experts stitching code together.

          1. cavepainting

            That’s fair. I agree. There are some areas where the founder can really think beyond current user perceptions of problem and solution and create something truly special that is dramatically better.However, this is more the exception than the rule so it is important to be sure you are well grounded and not under delusion.

    1. JLM

      .This falls into the pool of not re-inventing business or sex.In the day, it was customary to use focus groups (I used to call them focus “gropes.”) to obtain real world input on a product BEFORE launch.It is a skill that should be re-invigorated and used with great abandon.Why? Because it works?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. cavepainting

        Yes. I would also say that the primary underlying reason is hubris. People think they know when they don’t. They refuse to stress test their assumptions and get carried away.

        1. JLM

          .We fallible people sing the following chanty:We know what we know.We know what we don’t know.We don’t know what we don’t know.The third one is the killer.The other day I sat with a young CEO and discussed what he didn’t know he didn’t know. It was an eye opening conversation.It is only upon disciplined reflection we can even creep up on what we don’t know we don’t know.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. PhilipSugar

            Could not agree more, like how you have phrased it. I always say the most dangerous people are those that don’t know what they don’t know.The biggest thing you need to do is to minimize that one as you say.

  14. Vendita Auto

    Did reply to @adamludwin as @fredwilson made me automatically think about gaming / gambling industries token experience + the ability to cross legal boundaries (security) + traction scale.

  15. jason wright


  16. Marissa_NYx

    “Be stubborn on mission & flexible on journey” said a wise start up person.

  17. Humberto

    Except for Facebook, Apple, Google, Twillio, Amazon, PayPal, Tesla, Oracle or Microsoft! all reached maturity doing the initial business! (Twitted)A quick look at technology businesses with willing founders and strong visions seems to point in the opposite direction of what Fred mentioned.But, sure, we also know that many more (and yet more mundane success) businesses and specific technologies have made significant shifts in order to succeed.And of course, even successful established businesses must eventually adapt and shift..Maybe there is no rule?