Richard Reis
Jun 25 · 3 min read
By Richard Reis

Recently, I started building an app, Gurgeh. Every week I learn something new (this is a common feeling among founders). So I decided to share my weekly lessons in the hopes that (1) I don’t forget them and (2) they help you on your own journey.

One cool thing about studying computer science is how universal the lessons are. You can apply them to all sorts of areas in life.

Today’s post is a great example of that (and if you want more examples, this book is chock-full of them).

So let’s dive in.

In computer science, an iterative strategy involves repeating a process until a condition is met (if you code, you’ve done this with for and while loops).

Each “repetition of the process” is called an iteration.

In other words, you (1) have a goal, (2) try a strategy to achieve it (this is an iteration), and (3) if you didn’t achieve it, repeat step 2 with a different strategy until you achieve it.

Why am I mentioning this? Because this process is super useful for startups.

In fact, here’s how Chamath Palihapitiya explained Facebook’s success in this interview with Kara Swisher.

“Facebook just created itself… That’s not true. It was iterated to perfection.” — Chamath Palihapitiya

Iterated to perfection… Remember this lesson 📝

How? Let’s look at one example:

Around 2006 (2007?), Facebook had a goal (this is step 1): get user data from external websites and make it useful.

Then came step 2. They tried a strategy to achieve that goal.

That strategy was Beacon.

It didn’t work. In fact, Beacon was a big mistake.

Did Facebook stop there? Nope, they iterated.

In other words, they still had the same goal, they just tried a different strategy (step 3).

This strategy was Connect. And it worked because Connect was a huge, huge success.

Goal achieved.

And this isn’t the only example. Facebook (along with every successful startup) has tons of stories like this.

The only constant is their use of the iterative strategy.

“Launch fast and iterate. It’s a big mistake to treat a startup as if it were merely a matter of implementing some brilliant initial idea.” — Paul Graham

Sidenote: Yes, hardware companies do this too (iPhones still get better every year). It’s just a glacial pace compared to software though.

This is exactly how I’m building Gurgeh.

Ask me what I’m doing and I will answer “talking to users, iterating, talking to users, iterating, talking to users, iterating… ad infinitum.”

The app gets better every week. And the goal is to iterate to perfection.

But more about that in a future post :)

And that’s it for today!

See you next week.

Be well.


P.S.: Thanks for the awesome reaction to last week’s post! It makes me super happy to see people sharing it.

Thanks for reading! 😊 If you enjoyed it, test how many times can you hit 👏 in 5 seconds. It’s great cardio for your fingers AND will help other people see the story.


The Mission

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple.

Richard Reis

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"I write this not for the many, but for you; each of us is enough of an audience for the other." - Epicurus

The Mission

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple.

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