The Tale of Two Founders

A few years ago, two different friends of mine started startups with nearly the same idea - a coaching/mentorship marketplace for professionals. They had similar backgrounds and teams. Their products also were functionally identical. One friend has shuttered the business, and the other seems to be growing strong. How did that happen?

The friend who's still in the game was heavily focused on building a social following and community. She did multiple LinkedIn posts a week, attended events, met people 1:1, and hosted events. Eventually, she developed a community of over 50,000 professionals. She knew the community was the heart of the business and started with a community-first approach. She was also good at it and enjoyed doing it. The other friend was simply focused on building the software product. He was also more introverted and didn't enjoy posting publicly or organizing communities. 

A lot of tech founders make the critical mistake of assuming that building a startup means building a software product. That is rarely true. It's so common to build a perfect product but attract 0 customers and profits. GTM market matters a lot. Business model matters a lot. And software may not be the critical part of your business. 

This pithy quote captures the takeaway here - "First-time founders worry about the product, second-time founders worry about distribution, and third-time founders worry about the business model."