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  • >> Thanks for having me.

  • So today I am going to be talking about how to go

  • from zero users to 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 mentioned, I went through YC in 2010 and

  • spent a number, three years basically, going back and

  • forth pivoting a bunch of times,

  • starting over a bunch of times.

  • And have learned a lot about what not to do if I

  • were to start another startup after Homejoy if

  • that should ever happen.

  • And so a lot of it comes from failure and

  • just telling you about what you shouldn't do and kind of

  • making generalizations of what you should do

  • from that.

  • So just a reminder that this is,

  • sort of, you know, all advice you should take as

  • directionally good guidance, like if all,

  • like it's, it's kind of in the right direction.

  • But every business is different,

  • you are different, I'm not you, and so

  • just take everything with, you know, that in mind.

  • So since this is a college course, you know,

  • when you start a startup you should basically have lots

  • of time on your hands to concentrate on the start up.

  • And I'm not saying you should you know,

  • quit school or you should quit work.

  • What I'm saying is you should have a lot of time,

  • compressed time in a row.

  • Really dedicated to immersing yourself in

  • the idea and developing problems, or developing

  • the solutions to the problem you're trying to solve.

  • So for example if you're in school, you know,

  • it's better to have one or

  • two days straight of per week on working on your idea

  • versus you know, spending two hours here and there

  • every single day during the course of the week.

  • It's sort of like, I think this is an engineering class

  • so it's sort of like coding.

  • Like there's a lot of context switching and

  • just being able to really focus, really, really focus

  • and immerse yourself is very very important.

  • So, like I said, I sort of first,

  • when I wrote this up was thinking what

  • are things that some people do or most people do that is

  • not the correct way to do a startup and sort of

  • the novice approach I think is what you see up here.

  • Which is, you know, I have this really great idea.

  • I don't wanna tell anyone about it.

  • I'm gonna build, build, build, build.

  • I'm gonna be telling one or

  • two people and then I'm gonna launch it on,

  • you know, I'm gonna launch it on TechCrunch or some,

  • somewhere like that, then I'm gonna get lots of users.

  • But what really happens is because you did not

  • get a lot of that feedback and stuff like that,

  • you know maybe you get a lot of people to your site,

  • but no one sticks around because you didn't get

  • that initial user feedback.

  • And then, you know, if you,

  • you know, if lucky enough you have some money in

  • the bank you might go buy some users but sort of,

  • it just whittles out over time and you just give up.

  • This is sort of a vicious cycle and

  • you know, I actually did this once, and

  • I did this while I was in YC,

  • and that was you know like, when I went through YC I

  • didn't even launch a product,

  • like I didn't even launch in TechCrunch which is a thing

  • you should definitely do.

  • And so you don't want to ever get into that

  • cycle because you'll just end up with nothing good.

  • So, the next thing is you know, you have an idea and

  • you should really think about what the idea

  • is really solving.

  • Like what is the actual problem?

  • And so their problem statements you should be

  • able to describe it in one sentence.

  • And then you should think,

  • how does that problem relate to me?

  • Am I really passionate about that problem?

  • And then you should think, okay, it's a problem I have,

  • is it a problem that other people have?

  • And sort of verify that by, you know, just going out and

  • talking to people.

  • One of the biggest mistakes I've made is you know,

  • we started, my co-founder and I,

  • who is also my brother, he and

  • I started a company called Pathjoy in 2009, 2010.

  • And our goal was basically to you know,

  • we had two goals in mind one is to create a company that

  • made people really happy, and create a company that

  • was very, very impactful, so a good proxy for

  • that is to just create a huge, big company.

  • And so we thought, okay,

  • here's sort of what we're gonna solve is you know,

  • make people happier, and we first went to the notion of

  • who are the people that made people happy?

  • And you know,

  • we came up with life coaches and therapists.

  • So it seemed kind of obvious to

  • just create a platform for life coaches and therapists.

  • And what happened as a result though was that you

  • know, when we started using the product ourselves we,

  • you know, we're not cynical people by any means,

  • but life coaches and therapists are just not

  • people we would use ourselves.

  • It was sort of useless to us.

  • And so, it wasn't even a problem we had, and

  • certainly wasn't something we

  • were super passionate about building out.

  • Yet we spent, you know,

  • almost a year trying to do this.

  • And so, if you just start, you know,

  • from tegel zero, just like think about this before you

  • even build any product.

  • I think you can save yourself a lot of

  • headache down the road

  • from doing something you don't wanna do.

  • So, say you have a problem and you're able to state it.

  • Where do you start?

  • Like, how do you think of solutions?

  • So the first thing you should do is think of

  • what the industry that you are getting yourself into.

  • Whether it's big, whether it's huge,

  • you should really immerse yourself in that industry.

  • There's a number of ways to do this.

  • One is, you know, to really become a cog in

  • that industry for a little bit.

  • And so it might seem a little counter-intuitive to

  • do this, because most people say, you know,

  • if you really wanna disrupt an industry, you

  • should really not be this, you know, player in it.

  • You should, you know, someone who spent 20 or

  • 30 years in an industry probably you know, is set in

  • their ways and is just used to the way things work and

  • really can't think about what the inefficiencies are

  • or the things that you can, quote, unquote, disrupt.

  • But, however as a noob like coming into the industry,

  • you really should take one or

  • two months just really understanding what all

  • the little bits and pieces of the industry are, and how

  • it works because it's when you get into the details,

  • that's when you start seeing things you can exploit.

  • Things you can really, things that are really,

  • really inefficient and provide you know huge

  • overhead costs that you can cut down.

  • And, so an example of this is, you know,

  • when we start Homejoy and we, we decided to go,

  • we started with the cleaning industry and when we

  • started, you know, we just were cleaners ourselves.

  • And we started to clean houses and

  • we found out really quickly was that

  • we were very bad cleaners.

  • And so as a result, you know, we said, okay, we

  • got to learn more about this and we went to buy books.

  • And we bought books about how to clean,

  • which helped maybe a little bit,

  • we learned a little bit more about cleaning supplies.

  • But it's sort of like basketball you know,

  • you can watch and you can learn,

  • or you can watch and you can read about basketball, but

  • you're not gonna get any better at

  • it if you don't actually you know, train and you know,

  • throw a basketball around and throw it into the hoop.

  • And so we decided one of us basically had to go and

  • learn how to clean.

  • And so we went or

  • get trained by you know, a professional, some sort of

  • a professional training programs that existed.

  • And that meant, we actually went to get a job at

  • a cleaning company itself.

  • And the cool thing was that you know, I learned how to

  • clean from you know, training for the few weeks

  • that I was there at the cleaning company.

  • But the even better thing was that I learned a lot

  • about how a local cleaning company worked.

  • And in that sense you know, I learned why a local

  • cleaning company could not become huge like Homejoy is

  • today and that's because they have, you know,

  • they're pretty old school and

  • they have a lot of things, just from anywhere from

  • booking the customer to optimizing the cleaner

  • schedules was just done very inefficiently.

  • And so there is, so, if you are in a situation like mine

  • where you know, there's a service element to it,

  • you should go and do that service yourself.

  • You know, if your thing is related to restaurants you

  • should become a waiter it's really to you know,

  • if it's painting you know become a painter kind of

  • get in the shoes of your customers from all angles of

  • what you're trying to build.

  • The other thing is there's also levels of obsessiveness

  • that you should have with it too as well.

  • You should be so obsessed to know what everybody in

  • the space is doing.

  • And it's things like, you know,

  • running a list of all the potential competitors or

  • similar types of companies, Google searching it, and

  • clicking on every single link and

  • reading every single article from like,

  • search result 1 to 1,000.

  • You know, I found all potential competitors,

  • big and small, and

  • if they're public, I would go read their S1's,

  • I would go read all their quarterly financials,

  • I would, you know, sit on the earnings calls.

  • There's, you know, most of these you don't get much out

  • of it, but there's just these golden nuggets that

  • you'll find once in a while and you can't,

  • you won't be able to find that unless you

  • actually go through the work of,

  • you know, getting all that information in your head.

  • So yeah, you should become an expert in the industry.

  • There should be no doubt when you're building this

  • that you are the expert so that people will trust you

  • when you're building this product.

  • The second thing is

  • identifying customer segments.

  • So you know, ideally at the end of the day,

  • in the end game, you built a product or

  • a business that everybody in the world is using.

  • But realistically in the beginning you kind of

  • want to corner off a certain part of the customer base so

  • that you can really optimize for them, and that's just

  • you know, it's just about a matter of focus and a matter

  • of you know, just catering towards whether it's

  • teenage girls or whether it's you know, soccer moms.

  • You would just be able to you know,

  • like I said focus a lot on their needs.

  • And, lastly before before you even create the product,

  • before you put code down, you should really storyboard

  • out the ideal user experience of how you're,

  • how you're gonna solve the problem.

  • And that, and that's not just meaning, you know,

  • the web site itself, it's meaning, you know,

  • how does the customer find out about you.

  • You know, whether it's, you know,