How to get ideas and how to measure? — Week 2

Y Combinator Startup School (Speakers: Stewart Butterfield (Slack/Flicker) & Adam D'Angelo (Quora)

How to find ideas?

Get ideas

  • It is Easy to come up with ideas but it is more challenging to recognize which ideas are good.
  • Look for your own experiences to get inspired about ideas. Personal complains are windows of opportunity.Awareness and drive leads to good ideas.
  • Refinement of an existing idea can be useful to better design an existing idea. Slack based on refinement of Internet Relay Chat (IRC

Filter Ideas

  • Ideas intuition is a muscle you develop over a period of time.
  • Perfect execution can amplify the influence of the idea. Prioritize features based on urgency to resolve rather than speculation.
  • Target to be good at a few things you do and not be distracted with a lot of version enhancements.

How to Measure?

  • Measurement can turn a vague idea to a good idea
1. Back of the envelope calculation for how your product differs from others in the market.
2. Do not fixate on market size.
  • Important to measure users getting value today- active users, revenue, transactions (for marketplace).
  • Measure retention based on cohort ( for startups cohorts could be 1 week) this helps track product usage over time. Be aware of ring of fire ie if cohort usage keep declining it will lead to exhaustion of supplies/users. (e.g Groupon, PokemonGo) Aim for increase of retention over time (eg. Whatsapp, Uber on riders side, Facebook)
  • Retention is important but exponential growth is essential to have a successful company. Linear growth is not sustainable in longterm (you get this via spurts of PR campaigns)Ensure that measurement of growth is aligned with what a company wants. For exponential growth measure rate of growth.
  • Iteration drives growth: Speed is essential here, measure if iterating in the right direction to ensure aligned in company’s goals. ( Measure: Cycle of iteration and keep this short cycle)

Metrics are an abstractions so it is good to balance how much importance is paid to these metrics. Make informed decisions based on these metrics. Measurement helps you be closer to reality. Not measuring important metrics leads to cognitive bias.

Learn from past. Be in touch with reality. Be optimistic about potential in the future.

Figure: Source Tom Tunguz via StartupSchol Deck. Account Expansion correlates to increase overall valuation