Brian Bailey Preface to the Revised Edition

Deciding How to Grow

I recently had a conversation on Twitter with Vibhu Norby, the co-founder of Everyme. I hadn’t heard of the company until I received two emails from them after apparently being added by someone else.

It was an interesting conversation, and a familiar one. If you’re part of a startup, you’ll likely find it familiar as well. You can read it on Storify:

A Conversation with a Startup Founder

At the core, it’s a conversation about how to grow your product or service. It’s the world of viral loops, conversions, A/B tests, and exponential growth.

Most startups have conversations like this every week. There are many factors, pressures, and temptations that influence these decisions. I can see this from Everyme’s perspective very clearly. They are backed by some of the biggest VC firms and have a talented team of people working on it. I’m sure they are experimenting with many different methods to see what will work. Much of my experience with the service will be different in a few months.

Nevertheless, it’s worth thinking about for you and your company. What methods are worth it? Is there a line you wouldn’t cross? Why not?

For me, it comes down to three things:

  • What’s in the best interests of the users, not the company?
  • If another product did this and I was the user, what would I think?
  • Do I feel a twinge of guilt?

The problem is that there are many techniques that work really well that fail those tests, and sometimes sleeping well also means growing slowly. And every day, you face those choices all over again.

If you’re curious about the pressures raising money can bring, this post by Chris Dixon is the most succinct, high-quality post I’ve read on startups and VCs, Shoehorning startups into the VC model

If they raise VC, a wide range of outcomes that would otherwise be good become bad.