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Authentic &
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Matt Douglas, Founder and CEO of Punchbowl.com

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Your Startup Sucks

Your startup sucks. You know how I know that? I just heard about it for a few minutes, and I have no idea how your product is different from the other dozen in your market. And you know what? There’s no way you can get customers to come to your new website. It’s too hard, it’s too expensive, and simply too crowded in your market.

By the way, you’ll never be able to hire the engineers and marketers you need to grow your startup. No potential employees will ever see the long-term potential of your idea, and no potential employee would EVER leave their stable job to come and join you. You’re better off finding some overseas engineers anyway. You’ll spend a lot less money, and you can fail smaller.

Your startup sucks. Yeah, I just read about it on TechCrunch, but I also read all of the comments. There were a lot of valid points in those comments, and I don’t know how you are going to possibly address all of them. If you don’t fix each and every one of them there is no way you can get the “early adopters” to use your product. And you know that you need the early adopters if you ever have the chance to cross over the chasm to the mainstream user.

Ok, I used your product. It’s nice, but I don’t think I would use it again. But I do have a list of features that I’d love to see you implement. Where should I send that list? How come you don’t have a feedback form for customers yet anyway? You really should get on that.

Oh, and you’ll never get funding for that startup. Investors want to see real traction, real sales, and real competitive barriers. You don’t have them. Trust me, I know what it takes to get funding for a startup, and there is no way you’ll ever get an investor to believe in your vision. How many investors have you even spoken to so far? Did anyone even talk about giving you a term sheet?

How do you plan to market your startup anyway? Do you have a Facebook strategy? Do you know how to use Twitter to drive traffic? There’s quite a bit of learning curve to understand what you need to do to be successful in social media marketing. If you don’t, you better hurry up and learn. Do you know anything about SEM or SEO? It sounds like you’re already way behind.

Who am I? I am everyone around you — everyone who thinks you can’t find a way to be successful. Everyone who doubts your vision, and can’t see the opportunity that you can see. I am an angel group, a VC investor, a tech blogger, or a colleague. I am your mentor, your friend, or your family member — everyone who doesn’t vocally support your efforts, and has no idea how lonely starting up a company can be. I am everyone but you.

This post is dedicated to everyone who is in the process of starting a new company or trying to grow their startup. Don’t look for outside validation. Don’t listen to those who doubt. Fuck them. Keep going. If you believe you can do it, that’s the only thing that matters.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14263224151611385960 Jeff O’Hara

    I couldn't agree more. We don't need validation from outsiders. We built a great product for teachers & students, they came. 12 months later we have 92,000 registered users. It's been a rollercoaster. Ups and downs but i'm not looking back to reflect. We keep pushing forward with new features and growing our user-base daily. I am having more fun working on my startup than I have had in all my years of working. If we fail, we fail, but at least we tried. -JeffEdmodo.com

  • http://chinminoreply@blogger.com chinmi

    Cool post. But not even I know whether I can do it :s

  • http://Anonymousnoreply@blogger.com Anonymous

    Excellent stuff. It perfectly mirrors my experiences.In fact, I'm now thinking about changing the company's tagline to "Fuck 'em".

  • http://www.greatdeals.com.sg Laurent

    This post should be branded into the brains behind every startup!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13548854915362110594 Vada

    I've heard this litany every time I've started something new. Interestingly, the louder the chorus, the bigger the prize.

  • http://Anonymousnoreply@blogger.com Anonymous

    Yes I agree, most business people don't realize how important customer service is. That, in reality is what makes a good Company. Just not there anymore. Every Company that deals with the Consumer, should make a perfect form for the Customer's feedback, in order that every question is answered, and every comment is read, and always by a human and not FAQs. The form should be easy as Pie to access, and taken very serious. That's my opinion.

  • http://Anonymousnoreply@blogger.com Anonymous

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • http://Anonymousnoreply@blogger.com Anonymous

    Boy, this is an old post, but am I glad I read it. The nay-sayers are everywhere. Thanks for this post.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11473085645713311819 James McBryan

    I needed a refresher from being head down in the app today and I told myself "lets go see what the startup swami says" and boom, words of wisdom =)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11473085645713311819 James McBryan

    Swami, did you ever feel jaded from asking people for feedback? Did you ever stop asking people about it?

©2019 Matt Douglas