How to build a successful start-up
I started this series a late last year with the 1st blog on Generate an idea (but remember that it’s worthless) followed by In-depth observe (not interview) 5-10 potential customers, including 2-3 “extreme users” and then Document your Plan A and Identify the riskiest parts of your plan and most recently Systematically test your plan. I have copied the intro to the series directly below and you will then find part 6: “Get to Release 1.0” – the subject of this post
Original intro to the series:
The goal of a founder who wants to create a big company is to find product/market fit in a large market – one that is at least £0.5B/$0.75B in size. Much smaller than that and a venture investors won’t be confident that he or she will get 10x on their investment (and note that it doesn’t matter at which stage you’re working, as if an early stage investor like us, we need to believe that we will be able to sell you onto a Series A/B investor who also has to believe he or she can get 10x and so on). It’s not right all the time, but it’s a rule of thumb.
The Lean methodology, thought up by Eric Ries and then evolved by many others, is the best way to work through the early stages to product/market fit.
We like Running Lean by Ash Maurya for a clear outline of what this entails.
What Ash excludes from his thinking is in-depth customer observations, as developed by IDEO, the design firm founded by David Kelley in Palo Alto, right next door to Stanford University, my alma mater, and a clear definition of “strategy” for the start-up.
(Overly) Simply put, we think a founder needs to take the following steps:
I will write a bare-bones explanation for each of these 9 steps with as many links and references as I can so you can read better writers’ thoughts on the subject.
And please note that at some point on this journey you need to find a co-founder. It’s pretty rare for a solo founder to manage it all on his or her own. It happens, but it’s rare. I’ll write about that as an additional point 10:
10. How to do the co-founder thing
And the last thing that you absolutely need is a great culture.
11. What is a great culture?
Here we go:
1. Generate an idea (but remember that it’s worthless)
2. In-depth observe customers, including “extreme” users
3. Document your plan A
4. Identify the riskiest parts of your plan
5. Systematically test your plan
6. Get to Release 1.0:
Deliver on your unique value proposition – and make sure your activation flow demonstrates clearly the UVP at every stage
Organise and decide around LEARNINGS from COHORTS
Measure what customers DO – no surveys or focus groups
Communicate lessons learned throughout the organisation constantly
This is all based upon a MINIMUM VIABLE product
Every moment you’re working on something without it being in the public arena, it’s actually dying, deprived of the oxygen of the real world. It’s even worse because development doesn’t happen in a vacuum….By shipping early and often you have the unique competitive advantage of getting useful feedback on your product.
Real artists ship. (Steve Jobs)
Blame nobody. Expect nothing. Do something. Bill Parcells 
And remember to OBSERVE YOUR CUSTOMERS using your MVP and nurture the stuff they love, fix the stuff they hate and ignore the rest.
And remember to Measure actionable metrics by cohort – metrics that tie specific and repeatable actions to observed results and to customers who enter your funnel in a particular time-period – as opposed to measuring cumulative vanity metrics over a long time period like page views since launch, which doesn’t tell you anything about your real progress over time.
Eric Ries talks about the three A’s of metrics: ACTIONABLE, ACCESSIBLE, AUDITABLE:
ACTIONABLE – metrics that tie specific and repeatable actions to observed results
ACCESSIBLE – simple reports spit out the metrics at the click of a button
AUDITABLE – you are able to get behind the numbers
Blog 7 of 11 in this series will be about reaching product/market fit.
 Dave McClure in Do More Faster by Cohen/Feld; Wiley. Page 184
 Matt Mullenweg in Do More Faster by Cohen/Feld; Wiley. Page 21
 Steve Jobs quoted by Matt Mullenweg. Ibid
 Bill Parcells in Do More Faster by Cohen/Feld; Wiley. Page 167