24 Quotes from Kevin Hale on Building Products Users Love

From How to Start a Startup — Lecture 7


From Stanford’s CS183B Course How to Start a Startup — Lecture 7

The quotes below are all 140 characters or less, so please feel free to share as you see fit. In case I’ve missed any quotes or you find any errors, please leave me a comment and I will be sure to update the post.

  1. “…conversion rate and churn: the gap between those two things pretty much indicate how fast you’re going to grow.”
  2. “The best way to get to sort of a billion dollars, is to focus on the values that get you that first dollar, to acquire that first user.”
  3. “Love and unconditional sort of feelings are things that are difficult for us to do in real life, and startups you have to do that at scale”
  4. “Human beings are relationship manufacturing creatures.”
  5. “First impressions are important for the starting of any relationship because it’s the one we tell over and over again.”
  6. “Something about first time interactions means that the threshold is so much lower in terms of pass/fail.”
  7. “…when we are assessing products we never think about like: hey what is the emotion on the person’s face when they interact with this.”
  8. “You should just subscribe to little big details it’s just basically tons of screenshots of software that’s just doing it right.”
  9. “What most people don’t realize is, lot of times when I saw Joe in the early days of AirBnB he had a phone headset stuck to his head”
  10. “Churn is a story we don’t like to talk about all the time.”
  11. “AirBnB’s growth really started picking up, once they figured out how to match capacity to the demand or the phone calls they were getting”
  12. On Support Driven Development — “You don’t need a scrum or a bunch of post-it-notes. All you have to do is make everyone do customer support.”
  13. “You fix the feedback loop. The people who are building the software are the ones supporting it, and you get all these nice benefits.”
  14. “There is a direct correlation to how much time we spend directly exposed to users and how good our designs get.”
  15. “There is almost no difference between a 1% increase in conv. rate & a 1% decrease in churn, they do exactly the same thing to your growth”
  16. “Every single Friday we would get together and we’d write simple hand written thank you cards to our users.”
  17. “Focus on the people that are the most passionate, especially in the early stages.”
  18. “Humour is really difficult to do. What you want to do is shoot for something witty, and honestly you have to get functionality right”
  19. “…you having to spend money on marketing, sales, advertising… is usually a tax you pay because you haven’t made your product remarkable.”
  20. “Word of mouth growth is the easiest kind of growth, and how a lot of the great companies grow.”
  21. On feature requests — “Make the smallest version of each little idea, no longer than a week or 2 weeks to build it.”
  22. “It’s dangerous to have multiple different product directions that requires lots of time to figure out.”
  23. “…if you have 3 solid days, 8–10 hrs where you’re only working on what you need to build, you can get a ton of shit done.”
  24. “Most problems inside companies don’t need to be solved in real-time or right away.”

Please note that while the above quotes summarize key parts of Kevin Hale’s lecture, they do not cover his anecdotes on what made Wufoo such a unique startup. As a result, here is the link where you can watch the entire lecture for yourself: http://startupclass.samaltman.com/courses/lec07/

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Image Credit: Stanford CS183B Lecture 7 Video Screenshot