Building Product, Talking to Users, and Growing with Adora Cheung (How to Start a Startup 2014: 4) | Summary and Q&A

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Building Product, Talking to Users, and Growing with Adora Cheung (How to Start a Startup 2014: 4)


Learn from the mistakes of a serial entrepreneur and Y Combinator alum on how to successfully grow a startup from zero to a large user base.

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Key Insights

  • šŸš€ The importance of dedicating focused time to immerse yourself in the development of your startup idea and solve the problem you're targeting.
  • šŸ’” Avoid the novice approach of keeping your idea a secret, building without user feedback, and relying on a big launch to gain users. Seek user feedback early on.
  • šŸ” When starting a startup, clearly define the problem your idea is solving and ensure it's a problem you're passionate about and others have.
  • šŸ“š Immerse yourself in the industry you're entering by becoming a part of it, understanding the details, and identifying inefficiencies and opportunities for improvement.
  • šŸ’„ Be obsessed with understanding your industry, researching competitors, and gathering information on potential customer segments.
  • šŸŽÆ Identify specific customer segments to optimize your product for, rather than trying to target everyone in the beginning.
  • šŸ“ Storyboard the ideal user experience of your product before development, considering all touchpoints and interactions from discovery to after use. ā© Iterate quickly, optimize for the stage of growth you're in, and focus on the core features and needs of your early users.
  • šŸ“¢ To kickstart growth, start with obvious users like friends, family, and coworkers, then seek feedback in online communities and local communities related to your product.
  • šŸ“ Collect and analyze customer feedback, track retention and user behavior, and continually improve your product based on user needs and preferences.
  • šŸ’µ When it comes to paid growth, focus on calculating the customer acquisition cost (CAC) and customer lifetime value (CLV) to ensure a positive return on investment.
  • šŸ”„ Pivot when you're not seeing growth, whether it's due to lack of user retention, inability to grow, or unsustainable economics.
  • šŸ“ˆ Understand that growth may not always be linear, but maintain a growth plan and pivot if you consistently experience negative or stagnant growth for several weeks.
  • šŸŒŸ Consider sticky growth, viral growth, and paid growth strategies to drive user retention, word-of-mouth referrals, and customer acquisition respectively.
  • šŸ”„ When pivoting, find moments of clear differentiation and advantages over existing solutions to convince users to switch. Focus on one or two key differentiators.
  • šŸ”„ Be mindful of the switchover cost and provide clear benefits and advantages to encourage users to switch to your product or service.


thanks for having me so today I am going to be talking about how to go from zero users who many users I'm just assuming that you have many great ideas in your head at this moment and you're kind of thinking about what the next step is so I wrote this up early this morning and a lot of this is based off of mistakes I've made in the past so as Sam me... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What is the speaker's advice on dedicating time to a startup?

The speaker advises founders to have compressed time dedicated to their startup, focusing on immersing themselves in the idea and solving the problem at hand. This could involve concentrating on the startup for one or two full days a week, rather than spreading out work over multiple shorter sessions.

Q: What approach to starting a startup does the speaker advise against?

The speaker advises against the novice approach of keeping the startup idea a secret, building alone, and launching without seeking feedback. They emphasize the importance of getting initial user feedback and avoiding the "launch and hope" mentality, which often leads to a lack of user retention and eventual failure.

Q: What is the speaker's suggestion for understanding the problem and customer base?

The speaker advises founders to clearly define the problem their startup aims to solve, assess their personal passion for the problem, and validate if the problem is something others also experience. They recommend talking to potential users and avoiding building a product for a problem that the founders themselves are not passionate about or experienced with.

Q: How does the speaker recommend founders immerse themselves in the industry?

The speaker suggests that founders become experts in the industry they are targeting by conducting extensive research, studying potential competitors, and analyzing related companies' financials. They also advise founders to gain hands-on experience by working in a similar role or even doing the service themselves to fully understand the industry's ins and outs.

Q: What is the speaker's advice for optimizing the user experience?

The speaker recommends storyboarding the ideal user experience from start to finish, considering every touchpoint and interaction. They emphasize that the user experience goes beyond just the product itself, encompassing how customers find out about the startup, sign up or purchase, and evaluate the service afterward. This holistic approach ensures a clear vision and helps guide the development process.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The speaker shares advice based on their own experiences and failures when it comes to starting a successful startup.

  • They emphasize the importance of dedicating focused time and having a deep understanding of the problem you are trying to solve.

  • The speaker encourages founders to immerse themselves in the industry they are entering, be open to user feedback, and create a simple, focused product.

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