Editor’s note: Homejoy announced it would be closing down on July 31, 2015. Apparently, they were having a hard time raising money for a Series C. The news shocked many in the startup community, but hindsight is always 20/20. While Homejoy ultimately failed in their mission, they did a lot of things right, particularly in the early days. Any startup looking to grow can still benefit from their experience.
The whole starting a startup thing is pretty much useless unless you address the issue that Adora Cheung addresses in this next installment of How to Start a Startup.
Adora Cheung started Homejoy because she and her brother didn’t like to clean. Luckily, her lack of motivation for cleaning wasn’t indicative of her motivation in general and she grew Homejoy through hard work and the sheer determination to make her startup big. She eventually got into YC, got her messaging down and now she has a $37 million funding round under her belt.
She is definitely someone to listen too. So pull up a chair and get started.
Growth’s most important part of the equation… your users
The lifeblood of your company. The peanut butter to your jelly time… the only reason your startup should exist.
But you know this. What you don’t know is how you become Adora Cheung and go from zero users to “a lot of users”.
In this article, we are going to give you 7 golden nuggets from her startup lecture to demonstrate how she did just that.
Building your startup requires time + dedication.
Your startup should not be a side job that you are building because it will help you get the girl or guy when you flash your entrepreneur card at some Meetup.com networking group. Your startup should be your passion. You should focus a significant block of time (if not all of your time) to obsessively pursuing this passion.
Don’t be a Doomsday Prepper when it comes to your idea.
Your idea shouldn’t be hidden away in some bunker while you stockpile code and features obsessively ready to defend them at all costs. Ideally, you should be building an MVP that is used, iterated on after feedback is received and then pushed out again in front of your audience. This process should repeat until your product has reached product market fit and you are on your way to easy street.
If you have been building in stealth mode, don’t bank on a huge launch after months of secrecy.
Because you haven’t been getting feedback and learning from your users, chances are your big launch (no matter how big) will be useless. Without feedback, you don’t know if your message resonates with your market or if your app is solving their problem adequately… feedback is important to your startup. Without feedback you will end up with high churn and will soon be buying your users. And no one likes to pay for play.
Immerse yourself in the industry.
Adora Cheung actually learned how to clean people’s houses and then went and applied that knowledge to do the literal dirty work. She also used her newfound first-hand skillset to improve her offerings and marketing message.
Simplify your message.
If you know what your customer wants, you can perfectly craft a simple message that they understand. With about 5 seconds to make an impression, if your headline is akin to decoding the labyrinth, your bounce rate will make you cry.
Ask your users their thoughts.
Once your product is out into the market, don’t make your users chase you down. Ask THEM what they think. Hit up the message boards that they frequent and truly listen to what the general consensus is about certain features.
Create a great experience.
Remember that first time you went to Disney World and Mickey came up to you and shook your hand and your 5-year-old self nearly peed your pants? Well, Walt Disney is a bajillionaire because he knew that it was his job to make customers pee their pants in excitement. Take it upon yourself to do the same every time (well maybe you don’t want your customers peeing their pants but happy dances are great too). Wowing them makes referrals second nature, lowers churn, and helps you get Twitter famous.
Adora Cheung made each of these points sound simple but the fact is growth is one of the hardest things your startup will face. While it is easy to bury your head in the sand and build your product, you won’t find many entrepreneurs who will tell you that worked for them. Of course, we have lots of articles on how to score growth wins (like this one here and here) and we encourage you to read them all but just as Adora Cheung suggests, doing is how you’ll ultimately win.
Learn more about Adora Cheung and how she went from zero to a lot of users with her startup Homejoy here.