Des Traynor on why startups succeed

The bits that matter:

  1. Vision and mission
  2. Speed
  3. Product Customer Fit
  4. Product Market Fit

Mission and vision

Mission: Why do you exist, other than making money? Higher-order purpose. Clear on what would be better afterward.

Vision: What does the future look like because of you?

Why do you need those things:

  1. Decision-making if everyone knows the end goal there's less existential debate.
  2. Your brand customers will know what ideas they're signing up to, what do you stand for?
  3. Your employees you want a team inspired by the shared purpose, not just the revenue growth or monthly metrics.


A startup is a business designed to grow fast. You should be moving at neck-breaking speed. You should be very uncomfortable with things moving at a normal and fast pace.

Companies that ship fast always outperform.

What are the ingredients of speed:

  • Culture
  • Tooling: Bring value to customers and increase our ability to do that fast.
  • Focus
  • Process

Fast gets good before good gets fast

Product customer fit

Your product must be loved before you can tolerate being liked

Forget all the hacks, optimizers, and multipliers. Product Customer Fit means that "for a given customer, do they use our product every time the problem occurs and does it solve the problem <u>every</u> time.

Jobs to be done: The more you understand the problem, the more the solution becomes self-evident. How to understand your job:

  • Interview your users: Break the interviewees into different specific groups of people. Screenshot 2022-02-22 at 11.15.30.png

  • Scope your product: Make a storyboard on why someone would start using your product. i.e., What happened so that you needed to start using our product, What did it feel like to start using our product, how did you know that our product what the right one for you, what was your definition of success, do you ever think you'll stop using our product. Use this to set up metrics that matter.

Screenshot 2022-02-22 at 11.15.40.png

  • Pick metrics that matter. The real question you want to know is, do they use my product every time it matters, meaning what is the expected problem frequency or the trigger that causes me to use it.

When X happens, I use Y, every X I use Y. How many unique users have fully adopted your product. Are you fully solving the problem? You have product customer fit when some amount of unforgiving customers use our product every time they need it can help them, and it solves their problem completely.

Product Market Fit

You have a repeatable, reliable, and efficient way to reach the people who have the problem your product solves.

On the marketing funnel, you should start at the bottom with the happy paying customer and work your way up the funnel

Screenshot 2022-02-22 at 11.19.06.png

How people buy your product:

  1. Problem-based They search by the description of their problem.
  2. Category-based: They search by the solution category.
  3. Competition-based: They want a better version of what they currently have.
  4. Brand-based: They want you!

DisclaimerThese are a set of notes I took from listening to Des Traynor. They don't fully represent his thoughts as some of these might be rephrased to something I understand more clearly.


  1. Why startups succeed

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I'm an engineer building what's next

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