Instigator Blog

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Onboarding Isn’t About Signups, It’s About Long-Term Engagement

Instigator Blog

At some point in your startup’s existence you’ll need to focus a lot of attention on your product’s onboarding experience. Tweet.

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The Importance of Understanding Your Best Users

Instigator Blog

You need to define what a “good” user is for your startup. In Lean Analytics we call this the Stickiness Stage. Clicks? Page views? tl;dr.

Introducing Highline BETA – a Startup Co-Creation Company

Instigator Blog

Today, I’m launching a new company: Highline BETA. I’m co-founding Highline BETA with Marcus Daniels. I’ve known Marcus a long time and we’ve stayed in touch throughout the years. We’ve now found the right time and opportunity to work together. Highline BETA is something different. What does that mean? It […].

Startup 58

Context Matters When Building a Great Product

Instigator Blog

What are your users doing right before they use your product? What about right after? These are important questions that can help you build a better product. It’s not enough to understand the pain or problem your product solves; you also have to understand the circumstances in which it helps. What time of day is […]. Product Management

Optimize for Happiness

Instigator Blog

Last Friday, April 22nd was the 30th anniversary of my brother’s death. He died at 8 years old. wrote about it a few years ago as a way of celebrating his life and remembering him. Time heals. But it still f **g hurts. Not surprisingly, it’s around this time of year that I really reflect […]. Personal Development

“No Marketing” Isn’t as Impressive as You Think

Instigator Blog

Almost every early stage startup that pitches me these days talks about the traction they’ve had with absolutely no marketing whatsoever. “We have five hundred signups and we’ve done no marketing at all.” ” “Our beta list is growing quickly–and we’re not even marketing yet!” ” […].

Experimenting with Product, Price and Market

Instigator Blog

Every startup has to experiment with product, price and market to find the right combination that allows them to scale and win. But if you find yourself experimenting with all three at the same time, you need to take a step back and evaluate where you’re really at. Last week I wrote about product/market fit […]. Lean Startup

Product Debt

Instigator Blog

If you’ve spent any amount of time around developers you should be familiar with the term technical debt. Technical debt comes from hacking things together quickly and moving on. It accumulates over time. It can come back to bite you in the ass (if you scale to the point where the debt becomes obvious). It’s […].

Product/Market Fit and Lean Analytics

Instigator Blog

In the last couple weeks I’ve read a few great blog posts about product/market fit and the confusion that exists around what it really means. I’d say for many early stage startups, product/market fit is thought of as that point in time when you’ve finally built a product that people use and it’s time to […].

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Launch Your Startup When You’ve Already Won

Instigator Blog

The tech industry is overly-obsessed with making noise, being self-congratulatory and too often, focused on the wrong things. doesn’t help them.

No longer at VarageSale

Instigator Blog

Sometimes (most of the time?) things don’t go as planned. If there’s one constant in life, particularly in the world of startups, it’s change. And last week there was a big change in my life. I’m no longer at VarageSale. I’m now going to take a bit of time (to relax, catch up on things, […]. Personal Development

Don’t be Data-Driven, be Problem-Driven

Instigator Blog

Recently a founder of an early stage startup asked me, “How do I convince my co-founder and team to be more data-driven?”

Structure Matters (Scaling Startups)

Instigator Blog

When you first start a company there’s very little structure involved. You have a couple founders, an idea and (hopefully) a ton of passion for the problem you’re trying to solve. Lean Startup provides a methodology for how to do things, but generally the work and overall experience is pretty chaotic. Scaling Startups

Lean 69

Put Yourself in a Position to Be Lucky

Instigator Blog

Last week I spoke at a University of Toronto event to a small group of students. They were mostly business students (so I implored them to learn how to code and be useful–seriously business students, learn to code). As I was going to the event and reviewing my notes, I wrote the following down: Put […]. Personal Development

Engagement is a Long-Term Process

Instigator Blog

Drip marketing is a way engaging people before they buy. Most companies don’t do a great job of it. They might send a lot of email (e.g.

Email 102

Every Startup Employee is a Marketer

Instigator Blog

In an early, small startup, everyone wears many hats. So you’ve got a small team of developers building products for other developers. Marketin

The Challenge of Changing People’s Behavior

Instigator Blog

Building a product is easy. Getting people to use your product consistently is hard. The real challenge is changing people’s behavior. Startups

Want to Raise Money? Ask for Advice

Instigator Blog

When you start raising money for your startup, people will tell you, “If you want advice, ask for money. If you want money, ask for advice.”

Taking Advantage of Startup Accelerators

Instigator Blog

Last week a company that I advise, Qimple, got accepted into 500 Startups. It’s great to see. Lots of people are congratulating them on Facebook and Twitter. They’re incredibly excited. In Canada we buzz about our entrepreneurs “making it” south of the border. All warm and fuzzy. Startup Accelerators

My First 9 Months as an Angel Investor

Instigator Blog

As a founding partner of Year One Labs (an early stage accelerator), which operated actively in 2010-2011, I participated in 5 very early stage investments. But that wasn’t angel investing (although it had some similarities). Nine months ago I made my first independent angel investment. I’ve made 7 in total. Angel investing is fun.

When is it Time to Pivot or Quit?

Instigator Blog

Entrepreneurs aren’t quitters. To succeed you need to be resilient, thick skinned and borderline crazy. But sometimes, you have to quit.

6 Things You Need to Pivot Successfully

Instigator Blog

Pivot. We’re all familiar with the word — and many people now roll their eyes when they hear it. The word has been bastardized, overused, and taken out of context. But it doesn’t mean pivots aren’t important. Dont hate the word, hate the people that use it incorrectly and ignore its importance. Pivot. Say it with me. Pivot.

B2C 113

Size Matters in Seed Investments

Instigator Blog

Tomasz Tunguz has done a great analysis of the likelihood of follow on financing based on the size of your seed round. So what does this tell us?

Assembling the Avengers (Or How Startups Evolve Their Team Structures to Scale)

Instigator Blog

Who doesn’t like the Avengers, right? The first movie was awesome. The second one was…still fun. And the Avengers are heroes. They saved the world. As startups scale they go through a few phases of team building. Where companies end up varies, I’ve been a part of a few different structures and spoken with many […].

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Lean Startup and Lean Analytics in the Enterprise

Instigator Blog

It’s clear that Lean Startup is shifting from startups to the enterprise. There’s still a lot to learn amongst early stage entrepreneurs, and a lot of discussion that’s needed around implementing Lean Startup, but attention has definitely shifted to applying the framework in large organizations. It’s already happening.

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Design is Purpose Driven and Solves Problems

Instigator Blog

I’m not a designer. Or an expert in UX or UI. Sometimes that means adding features. Sometimes that means taking features away. People go crazy.

Single Founders or Co-Founders?

Instigator Blog

Conventional wisdom says that startups should have two or three founders. People tend to have pretty strong opinions on the issue, although I doubt they have definitive evidence / proof to back up their opinions. Some investors won’t even invest in single founders at all–so understandably for entrepreneurs this is a big issue. Startups

A Sense of Duty in Startups

Instigator Blog

Some people (founders and employees) have a sense of duty towards the work they do. Others do not. For me, duty is about caring. and push through.

Digging Deeper into Lean Business Model Canvases

Instigator Blog

If you haven’t seen it, check out his recent presentation: When the Boardroom is Bits. More specifically, they don’t go deep enough.

Grabbing Attention and Holding Onto It

Instigator Blog

Grabbing attention is hard enough. Holding onto it is damn near impossible. In the consumer world (although this applies to B2B software too), attention is the currency that matters. If you can get people’s attention you have a chance of winning. Without it, you can pack up and go home. When talking to entrepreneurs I […].

B2B 66

The Product Manager’s Portfolio

Instigator Blog

It’s not always easy for a product manager to explain her precise role in building product. Every company defines product managers differently, and a product manager’s output is sometimes difficult to see or quantify. Product managers tend to use success metrics as a baseline for their experience (e.g. ”) but of […].

Tiny, New, Addictive Behaviors (or How to Build an Awesome Minimum Viable Product)

Instigator Blog

Early on, once you’ve identified a problem genuinely worth solving, you need to build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and put it into the hands of early adopters. In Lean Analytics , we call this the Stickiness Stage. Sometimes they move ahead anyway and hope they can acquire (customers) their way out of the problem…it doesn’t work.

Don’t Sell Technology, Sell Magic

Instigator Blog

Tech startups aren’t in the technology business. Startups need to sell magic. Most don’t care. They don’t need to. That’s it.

The Importance of Using Your Own Product

Instigator Blog

Every weekend I buy a few items on VarageSale. It’s not because I need more tchotchkes (although I am buying some awesome things for our new office), it’s because I need to use the product to really understand our members. We collect a ton of quantitative data, but you can’t win on quantitative data alone–you […].

Lessons Learned Launching a Lean Startup Accelerator

Instigator Blog

Year One Labs is a Lean Startup accelerator. Since our launch we’ve co-created and invested in 5 startups (which was our target number).

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Quiet and Boring: How to Build a Successful Startup

Instigator Blog

A few days ago, Indeed (a job aggregator site) announced that they had been acquired by a Japanese company called Recruit Co Ltd. One story I saw pegged the acquisition close to a billion dollars. I’ve heard through the grapevine about some very happy investors. Indeed is a big company (25,000 employees, 80 million unique visitors per month.)

How Many Metrics Do You Need to Run Your Startup?

Instigator Blog

Answer: Only one. One of the concepts we’re pushing hard in the Lean Analytics book is the One Metric That Matters (OMTM). Just one.

Small Features

Instigator Blog

But are small features really that easy to build? Small features are not necessarily easily to build. Session Lock is below the list of participants.

The Role of Product Managers

Instigator Blog

I came across an interesting discussion on Branch about the role and future of product managers. I’m not a member there so I couldn’t respond directly, but figured I’d put my thoughts here instead. Yesterday the discussion only had a few comments on it. In that way, Product Managers are very similar to CEOs. Crappy developers.

The Hustler

Instigator Blog

You spend enough time with enough startups and you genuinely come to appreciate the importance of The Hustler. The Hustler plays a few levels above where he * should, but gets away with it because of sheer willpower, ego and perceptivity. Tweet. The Hustler also gets into the nitty-gritty. The Hustler does not network for the sake of networking.