The Hierarchy of Engagement
Sarah Tavel
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So difficult to take complex thoughts and make them simple to understand — well done explaining “how a bill becomes a law” on product metrics that lead to enduring and enormous value.

I’d add that there’s a prequel to this story: the hazy early days (where our fund often invests) where it’s unclear if you even have product-market fit.

In those days, the signs we look for in the data are:

  • Is anyone addicted to this product? In addition to the total number of users who perform the core action, having some subset of users that shows extreme devotion to the product seems to be one of the first features of ultimately-successful businesses that emerges.
  • How long are users staying? (Retention, again.) Though I know there’s an “extending retention” phase you describe later, just having a healthy starting level often comes before seeing growth at all, and is likely a more reliable early signal than growth.

Growth is, to us, often (surprisingly) relatively unimportant in the very earliest days. Especially if a product has saturated some starting niche

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