How to Use the Bullseye Framework to Create Early Traction for Your Startup

Lessons in Growth Hacking 101 from the creator of DuckDuckGo

Adam Skali
Feb 26 · 5 min read
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

When we are starting with our project, the main focus is usually the product. We know how it has to be done, we refine it by asking more and more people. We make the best product ever, but we forget that most startups fail. And many do, not because they don’t have a product, but because nobody buys.

So if you don’t want to find yourself having a great product but no customers, then building traction is something you should really think about.

What Is Traction?

Traction, as defined by Naval Ravikant creator of Angel List, is:

“Traction is basically quantitative evidence of customer demand. So if you’re in enterprise software, [initial traction] maybe two or three early customers who are paying a bit; if you’re in consumer software, the bar might be as high as hundreds of thousands of users.’’

It is a way to show that what you have created or want to create has value and there are people who wish to see it and use it. Traction is born out of giving customers something they are interested in and it is the result of gaining trust.

It shows that people want to know more about you and are willing to let others know more about you. It is your key to growth. And in the startup world, growth is a key metric.

And then, the question becomes: how do we actually achieve traction?

The Bullseye Framework

Photo by Anastase Maragos on Unsplash

In his book “Traction.’’ the creator of DuckDuckGo explains his framework for growth. The bullseye framework which is based in three steps:

As usual in entrepreneurship, the first step is brainstorming. Find out all the possible channels that people in your industry and others have used.

The channels can be online or offline. Find ways to make use of each one of those channels and then choose the ones that seem most promising and start testing them

Some of the channels we can use are:

  • Targeting blogs
  • Publicity
  • Search Engine Marketing
  • Social and display ads
  • Offline ads
  • Search engine optimization
  • Content marketing
  • Engineering as marketing

Many of them are typical channels we have all seen used and are fairly standard but don’t stop only at the typical ones. Search for those that have been never used in your industry and think about how to implement them.

For example, engineering as marketing. It could be seen as a new way of content marketing where you give the framework and others can put the content they want. By creating tools that are useful, you can create trust and interest.

An example of this is Unsplash. It was born out of a side project and ended up being the biggest generator of leads for Crew.

Use this list of channels to get started, and brainstorm ways in which you can start creating brand awareness in these channels. Imagine what success would look like in each one, and write it down in your outer ring.

For each channel, you should identify one decent strategy that has a chance of moving the needle.

Create tests to evaluate the best ideas, out of all the ones you came up with. Choose the ones that sound most interesting and decide on metrics to choose which approach makes sense.

For each one, create a traction test you can run to determine if the idea is good or not. These tests should answer:

How much will it cost to acquire customers? How many customers are available through this channel? Are the customers that you are getting through this channel the kind of customers that you want right now?

Use these questions as a guide and run multiple experiments in parallel to be more efficient. This way you can zero in on the ones that work faster.

The aim of this step is to test the best possibility of our circumstances and only then decide on what we are going to use.

The last step is to focus mainly on the channel that worked best. Now, the focus is on how to optimize this channel you have chosen. Use all your efforts and even the other channels as a way to grow this channel and make it into your core.

Be sure to find new ways to grow it and increase its returns; don’t settle just because something worked once. The world is constantly changing, so be ready to test assumptions.

For example, Instagram is still great because of the number of users. But if your objective is organic growth, then TikTok could be a better option.

Keep this in mind and continue growing it until you reach the point where that channel gets saturated. But be careful not to lose focus, as many times, unless we can nurture it enough we might find ourselves failing.

Take into account that the world is in constant change, and so is your startup. If some channels worked well when starting, they might not be as good once you need more customers.

An example could be getting featured in small outlets. This can give you a great initial boost, but it might not be enough to sustain later stages of growth.

By keeping an open mind and trying new ways to grow you can, not only start your journey but also propel it forward.


Traction is often overlooked, yet it can be just as important as building your product. Especially because through it you can get an understanding of the needs of your public. Traction is a seal of approval that your customers give you and a chance to start creating a community.

So use this framework to get the initial boost your product will need once you take it to the market. This way you will also have many more opportunities when trying to find investment, as having traction is a way to show that there is interest.

Better Marketing

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Adam Skali

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Self-development I ScienceStorytelling I CareerDevelopment | |

Better Marketing

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