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My 2013 essays on mobile, startups, and tech

Happy new year! Here’s a quick list of some of the essays I wrote (and guest posted) for 2013.

Long form stuff
Zero to Product/Market Fit (Presentation)
Here’s a presentation I gave to a group of entrepreneurs talking about the issues starting out and getting to product/market fit. Given that most startups fail before hitting that, I think it’s the right thing for most folks to focus on, versus growth or company culture or whatever.

Rational Growth (PDF): An intro to growing user signups via data and analytical thinking
An ebook on how to think systematically about growing user signups. Covers the idea of taking a user flow, modeling it out on a spreadsheet, then tweaking numbers to guess effects, and then A/B testing to validate.

Essays that I wrote in 2013 about startups and tech

Mobile traction is getting harder, not easier. Here’s why.
The mobile ecosystem is evolving, and a lot of the marketing tactics that worked a few years ago don’t work anymore. Launches, getting featured, are all helpful but aren’t as powerful as before.

When a great product hits the funding crunch
An analysis of Everpix and how they failed to raise their next raise, even given their high-quality product and effective freemium numbers.

Constrained media: How disappearing photos, 6 second videos, and 140 characters are conquering the world
A key bottleneck in social products is the participation rate of content creators – adding constraints like 140 characters and 6 second videos helps make content creation more casual, and thus more people do it.

Confessions of a Startup Seagull
It’s easy to criticize new startups.

Why it’s hard to evaluate new social products
Social products create an experience using both the “bits” combined with the other people who are using the service. It’s hard to evaluate a new social product if you don’t have a critical mass of friends using it too.

Books I’m Reading
I read some random books.

Ignore PR and buzz, use Google Trends to assess traction instead
It’s easy to confuse PR buzz and traction. I use Google Trends to figure out how many people are searching for a brand, which IMHO has been one the best ways to assess if something’s really working.

I’m a Google Glass skeptic and think it’ll be the next Apple Newton
Wrote this before I even used a Google Glass, and now that I have, I definitely haven’t changed my mind. It has to be a lot better than the less geeky alternatives (smartphones, smart watches), in order to get people to wear it 24/7.

Minimize your Time to Product/Market Fit
Given that most startups fail before hitting P/M fit, here’s a couple thoughts on how to increase the odds of getting there.

Why are we so bad at predicting startup success?
Humans suck at probability, and VCs/entrepreneurs are no different. It’s hard to draw conclusions by looking at the 10-20 successful startups generated each year, the dataset is too small.

How this blog grows: Evergreen content, Social whales, and “Don’t get bored”
Build a feedback loop using evergreen content that cross-sells to social media channels.

Why developers are leaving the Facebook platform
The Facebook growth opportunity is 100% over. Move to mobile.

The death of RSS in a single graph
I turned off RSS subscriptions on my blog this year, and am moving to email. Here’s one of the main reasons why.

Linkedin, Facebook, Google, Twitter, eBay, YouTube, Wikipedia, Amazon, Hotmail, Blogger, Apple: How they used to look
Humble beginnings.

New college grads: Don’t sell your time for a living
I wrote this as part of a Linkedin feature for new college grads. Most people sell their time for a living, and as a result, they lack understanding on how they create value in the world plus it’s a shitty personal business model since you’re always running out of time.

Also, I had some wonderful guest essays this year too – I won’t attempt to summarize them:

Why you can’t find a technical co-founder (Elizabeth Yin at Launchbit)

The critical metrics for each stage of your SaaS business (Lars Lofgren of KISSmetrics)

9 ways a billion dollar new mobile company might be created (Bubba Murarka at DFJ)

The highest ROI way to increase signups: Make a minimal homepage (Mattan Griffel)

Use this spreadsheet for churn, MRR, and cohort analysis (Christoph Janz, Point Nine Capital)

3 common email marketing failures (Elizabeth Yin at Launchbit)

Social products win with utility, not invites (Sangeet Choudary)

How to grow your app revenue with DuPont analysis (Kenton Kivestu)

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