I had an interesting comment from John Gillett yesterday in response to my 10,000 hour post. As I understand it, the essence of his question is really: is it possible to master the go to market process for startups? In other words, are there enough similarities between startups for a universal approach to be relevant? And if possible, does it really take around 10,000 hours to master it? Others have also asked me similar questions. Since developing an effective, repeatable process is the core goal that drives my hyper focus on taking startups to market, I thought it would be useful to highlight our interaction.
Here is John’s comment:
10,000 hours seems a bit arbitrary, particularly when there are so many different types of tech startups.
Becoming an industry leader may rely more on perception than actual hours spent perfecting the craft. A powerful PR firm may be able to accelerate a launch 100 fold.
I can understand the typical startup cycle being close to 1,000 hours, but it still seems like a relative benchmark that is somewhat useless.
Here is the reply I posted:
John thanks for the comment. I would probably have had a similar reaction before reading Outliers, but Gladwell presents some pretty compelling evidence that mastery often happens around 10,000 hours of practice. I’m not sure if/how this specifically applies to startup marketing, but I do know that I’m still learning a ton with each new startup I take to market and each startup is making faster customer development progress than the last; Eventually this steep learning curve will flatten.
There are similarities in the optimal go to market process at each of the startups – particularly in the sequence in which marketing projects should be executed. It’s important to begin by generating an early flow of users and uncovering how they are gratified when using the product/service, who is gratified and how to position the product to attract more of these types of people. The process for uncovering this information is similar at each company I’ve worked with. Also the metrics systems and process for reducing barriers and improving conversion rates are similar. These and many other projects should all be completed before trying to scale the business. Here’s a snapshot of the current sequence I’m using http://www.slideshare.net/seanellis/marketing-plan-for-web-20-startups-presentation . For the foreseeable future, the process will keep changing as I discover better ways to make faster customer development progress.