Keys to Start-up Success: Humility and Patience

I want to focus on growth. I love the idea of people everywhere talking about the magic of Travelabulous. I love the idea of disrupting the online travel industry – to let people find the perfect trip before giving them an interface to book it.

I want to be part of a team working in an environment that is free of politics. One where everyone has a clear line of site to purpose. One focused on making travel planning as much fun as the trip itself.

Waiting for this to happen is hard. Knowing that I don’t know what the perfect solution looks like is difficult.

But, value has to proceed growth.

The prevailing wisdom is that entrepreneurs are confident and hard-driving; arrogant and impatient; full of swagger and decisive. I am not sure why that is.

You need to have enough confidence in yourself to get up every day and work harder towards your purpose than the day before. The confidence to ignore the opportunity cost you are giving up to follow a dream and to make a difference. You also need the drive and focus to build, measure and learn as quickly as possible.

But, getting to value takes a lot of patience and even more humility.

What is value? It is a straightforward as “do customers value our product?” If customers don’t get value they won’t use and recommend our product. If they don’t recommend our product, we won’t get growth.

How do we know if we have reached value? We are using the product-market fit (PMF) definition of Marc Andreesson and the measurement of Sean Ellis. That is, we will reach PMF when 40% of our clients tell us that they would be “very disappointed” without Travelabulous.

At Travelabulous, the focus on value primarily falls on Masha, although I am doing all I can to support. Let me give an example of the patience and humility we have displayed recently.

One of our value hypotheses is that people want a ranked list of hotels based on their personal preferences, unlike the “hard” filters of online hotel sites in market today. Before our first release, we had a gesture to access preferences near the top right corner in our UI. Masha tested this with a dozen or so people. A grand total of zero found it! How could we hope to get the personalized ranking right if customers could not express their preferences?!?!

We were now in a spot where will felt we had to strip features out of the product to test two core hypotheses, one of which was finding and setting preferences.

We have since made a change to move the preferences selector and have rolled out a more minimum product than what we had developed. We have rolled this out to approximately 60 users, and 100% have found preferences! (So much for all that enterprise software thinking about “it doesn’t matter where we put the button!”)

Success? Not yet. Only 50% are realizing the preferences are for ranking and not just another list of filters. What do we do? Make changes and test again.

When will we achieve PMF? When customers tell us and not one day before.

All those plans for growth are going to have to wait for now.

I better get back to getting to PMF…

‘til next time… Kirk, out.

3 thoughts on “Keys to Start-up Success: Humility and Patience

  1. Pingback: Love and Magic | Kirk Munroe

  2. Pingback: Love and Magic | Business Accelerator Lab

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