Reading list – Aug 15th

Great framework to analyze PM skills in hiring situation or provide tangible feedback.

How the biggest consumer apps got their first 1,000 users

Lenny Rachitsky explains various strategies how various major consumer startups acquired their first 1,000 users. The article summary:

Top seven strategies to acquire your first 1,000 users

  1. Go where your target users are, offline
  2. Go where your target users are, online
  3. Invite your friends
  4. Create FOMO in order to drive word-of-mouth
  5. Leverage influencers
  6. Get press
  7. Build a community pre-launch

Key questions to ask yourself to determine where to focus:

  1. Who are your early target users, and where they currently congregating, offline?
  2. Who are your early target users, and where they currently congregating, online?
  3. Do your friends fit into the target user group? If so, have you invited them yet?
  4. Does your product rely on UGC? Consider curating the early community.
  5. Is your value-prop incredibly strong? Consider throwing up a waitlist.
  6. Is your product innately social? Consider relying on existing users to invite new users.
  7. Who are influencers of your target users, and how could you get them to talk about your product?
  8. What’s a unique, compelling, fresh story you could pitch press?
  9. Could you build a community now, to leverage later?

René Girard and Mimetic Theory

 “By reading the great writers against the grain of conventional wisdom, Girard realized that people don’t fight over their differences. They fight because they are the same, and they want the same things. Not because they need the same things (food, sex, scarce material goods), but because they want what will earn others’ envy. Humans, with a planning intelligence that sets them apart from all other animals, are free to choose. With freedom comes risk and uncertainty: humans don’t know in advance what to choose, so they look to others for cues. People can desire anything, as long as other people seem to desire it, too: that is the meaning of Girard’s concept of “mimetic desire.” Since people tend toward the same objects of desire, jealousy and rivalry are inevitable sources of social tension — and perfect themes for the great novelists.”

The Value of a Velvet Rope: Effects of Hype and Exclusivity on Launch Strategies

I particularly liked the “building in public” explanation. Strategy that’s by companies like Lambda School or Fast:

What does this “building in public” phenomenon actually look like in action? For both Allred and Domm, it looked like vulnerability and authenticity. Their playbook for building in public looked something like this:

  • Share real quotes & screenshots of feedback from users
  • Propose interesting product ideas and ask the community for feedback
  • Articulate roadblocks the company is facing and how to overcome them
  • Give insight into largely unknown aspects of the company/product
  • Share “sneak peeks” and vague product updates for things to come
  • Post screenshots of internal Slack messages showcasing company culture
  • Tell emotional stories about your company to pull at followers’ heartstrings
  • Quote Tweet someone describing a problem and respond “We are fixing this at …”

The Value of Spare Capacity

The height of a tree depends on not just the seed, but the size of the pot you plant it in. Without space to grow, you’ll only end up with a shrub.

Similarly, the amount of progress you’re able to make depends on your spare capacity. Without time and energy to invest in growth, your life will stay as it is.