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Increasing a Startup's Chances of Being Successful

Hsu Ken Ooi
Hsu Ken Ooi
1 min read

For a startup to win, it needs a sufficient number of successes along the way. The obvious question then becomes: how does a startup generate the maximum number of successes?

Let's define a success as anything that when accomplished, moves your startup closer to winning. It could be improving a feature that increases retention, getting a better understanding of a user segment, finding a new growth channel and so on.

# of Successes = Probability of a Success * # of Experiments
This formula is obvious but people rarely think about it. The higher your probability of success, the more successes you will have. The more times you try, the more successes you will have.

↑ Probability of Success
If your probability of success is low, you probably don't understand your users. If you did, it would be higher. Use metrics to identify what is and is not working. Talk to users to figure out why. Make changes and validate the results with metrics.

↑ # of Experiments
You can increase experiments by (1) hiring more people or (2) decreasing the cost of each trial so you can do more. A trick with (2) is finding low cost ways to achieve the same effect. This is highly contextual so here's an example:

↓ Cost of Experiment

A founder, who wanted to test if ads would be a viable way to monetize, asked for advice on getting advertisers. I told them to run the ads without their permission. They get the data they want without a sales process or having to build out an ads product.

More Experiments → Better Understanding of Users → Higher Probability of Success

More experiments lead to a better understanding of users, which results in a higher probability of success. Increasing experiments is key, especially for early stage startups.

Hsu Ken Ooi