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Tuesday
Aug052014

Startups are about SCALE

 

Startups today are about one thing: scale.


As in getting big and doing it fast, like: Uber, Airbnb, Dropbox, Snapchat and a couple dozen others.

In this email I want to accomplish two things:

1. Explain why SCALE is so critical today.
2. Get ideas from you on topics and speakers for the LAUNCH SCALE event I’m hosting.

[ LAUNCH SCALEOct 23-24, San Francisco -- http://events.launch.co/scale ]

“But wait Jason,” I can hear one of you tweeting me, “didn’t you say just two years ago that we are living in the ‘age of excellence’ and all that matters is how good the product is?” [The Age of Excellence: http://blog.launch.co/blog/the-age-of-excellence.html ]

That was 27 months ago. Things have changed radically in that time, and what has changed most is that “startup alchemy” has given way to “startup science.” If you look at all the aspects of building your company, it has become productized:

-- We have MailChimp teaching us -- heck, forcing us -- to do email perfectly. Ten years ago we had to spend entire days per month sending emails. Now it’s minutes.

-- Amazon Web Services, Dyn, and Rackspace are letting folks build their infrastructure perfectly and quickly. Years ago it tooks months to get your stack up and running.

-- InVision is letting us build flawless mock-ups, and HipChat is letting us communicate 24/7 across mobile and desktops.

-- Marketing is as easy to implement as buying books from Amazon was ten years ago. Non-technical folks can launch campaigns on Twitter and Facebook’s marketplaces in hours, without ever needing to hire an agency. With AdStage it gets even easier.

-- You can go on Dribbble or Behance and sort and surf through killer designs -- made by people in South America, Asia, and Eastern Europe -- that are indistinguishable from folks in the United States!

-- Finally, the accelerators are filling in a ton of the gaps in building your product.

What’s left if every aspect of a startup is being perfected and productized?

SCALE!

The Questions to Ask Yourself
--------------------------

Given a year or so of capital/time you should be able to build a solid product that some group of users find value in. If you can’t, there are two reasons:

1. You’re probably trying to do something wildly complex or far out there in terms of even being possible (think an electric car, artificial intelligence).

2. You suck and shouldn’t be an entrepreneur.

If your problem is #1, well, then just pivot to the “next best manifestation of your vision based on what you learned.”

If your problem is #2, simply go work for someone brilliant for two to five years and take a LOT OF NOTES.

If you have built a great product, but it’s not growing, ask yourself the following:

I. “How much time and money are we spending in total as a company each month?”
II. “How much of that time and money is going directly toward the growth of this product?”
III. “Is our team aligned around the goal of growth or not?”

In my case, I told our team that we would build Inside.com to the point of having a core group of thousands of daily users who love the app, and if we succeeded then we would focus on growth.

We are in the process of looking at our budgets and time, and literally putting as much behind the SCALE of our product as we can.

There are two primary growth types:

a) Adding new users
b) Getting existing users to use your product more

So we are pursuing both of these with content, social, targeted ads, PR, and most importantly, product design.

It’s HARD to make a news product viral, but we’re trying!

Help Me Help You!
--------------------------------

Now that I’m in the middle of trying to SCALE Inside.com, it’s the perfect time for me to bring 250 of y’all to learn together.

That’s LAUNCH SCALE, and I could use your help with the following:

-- Speakers: We are looking for executives who specialize in growing startups, and have had great success in doing so. Think backwards from high-growth startups (Uber, Airbnb, Box, Dropbox, etc.), as well as from the function areas (PR, viral loops, UX, paid, social, street teams, community, content marketing, etc.).

-- Join us: You can buy a ticket with the 30% FOJ discount code (“friend of Jason”) that is good for the next week.

-- Diversity: All of our events, in addition to my podcast and investing, are working hard to present tremendous diversity on the stage and in the audience. Our team believes that our events and products benefit greatly from lots of different perspectives. With that in mind, please help us find speakers and submit them here: http://events.launch.co/speakerformscale. Also, if you know of anyone who would benefit from a scholarship, we reserve 10% of our seating for folks striving to take it to the next level (like many of us did in web 1.0!).

-- Sponsor: We are doing two types of presentations at LAUNCH SCALE:
1. Startups that have scaled
2. Companies that provide tools that help startups scale. So if you are a company that makes money providing tools for companies to grow, well, you should sponsor the event and show your product/case study. Emailpartners@launch.co

We have the following presentations already lined up:

1. Steve Huffman,  Co-Founder - reddit & Hipmunk
2. Marco Zappacosta, CEO - Thumbtack will explain how thumbtack got 70,000 paying customers without a salesforce, and raised $50M.
3. Andrew Johns, Head of Growth & Revenue -  Wealthfront will talk about how they attracted $1B in assets under management with a tiny marketing budget.
4. Patrick Cheeseman, Head of Customer Experience - HotelTonight will discuss how to use support to drive product innovation.
5. Ryan Mannion, CTO - POLITICO will discuss how to grow from 0 to 100 Million monthly pageviews.
6. Christopher DePatria, VP of Revenue - SignPost will explain how he grew their sales team from 5 to 100 in 2 years, and signed up 93k SMB customers.
7. Aaron Magness, VP of Marketing -  Betabrand will tell us how they use crowd-funded emails to never have unwanted inventory again.
8. Craig Zingerline, Sr. Director of Product - Red Tricycle will tell us how they grew to 750,000 emails without spending a dollar.
9. Arjun Naskar, Growth Manager - Homejoy will discuss how to expand into 31 markets in 2 years.

Any questions, hit reply and ping me AND the team!

best, @jason