For any tech startup, it’s important to foster a culture where every single employee is passionate about every aspect of what it means to win. Each startup will define winning differently, but in my view it must always include making customers exceptionally happy, growing quickly, growing responsibly, and generating healthy liquidity. It’s relatively easy to do any one or two of these things in a vacuum. It’s only winning if all four are achieved.
1. Make customers exceptionally happy
A healthy amount of customers must be recommending the product to their peers without external incentivizing. Import to note - A lot of others factors get caught up in this one: Continually innovating, Providing great support, Building a team with a high sense of empathy, etc.
2. Grow quickly
100+% growth in ARR for the first couple of years and 50+% for many years following
3. Grow responsibly
Code must be secure enough and data must be treated with such care that you’d trust the product with your own kids’ data. Product must be compliant with regulations and user agreements. Users must be sourced and marketed to legally.
4. Generate healthy liquidity
Liquidity for investors totaling a few-hundred million or more within a few years of investment
Obligatory sports analogy
In my experience, the more you see a tech startup operating like a well-respected sports franchise, the better chance it has of winning. It will:
- Be goal-oriented
- Have everybody on the team working relentlessly towards those goals
- Obsessively engage with its audience
- Not take shortcuts that would be considered unethical
- Not make short-term decisions that would make it overly burdensome to win in subsequent years
The role of the engineering team
For a startup’s engineers to accomplish all of this, they must create far more than code. They must create ideas, product requirements, and the products themselves. They must be innovative and excel at creating value. And throughout all of this, they must create a shared sense of purpose and principles with which they hold each other accountable.
What does winning mean to you and your team?