The Week in Review #19: We Don’t Sell Saddles Here

One of the success stories of 2014 was the meteoric rise of the business communication app called Slack. Countless of articles have been written about its exponential growth. This week, I stumbled upon a letter the founder had written to his team last year. What stood out in the post is the founders understanding of the customer need. On the surface it may seem like one of the hundreds of chat applications that are available. However, Slack was positioned as a tool to reduce the information overload plaguing companies across the world.

This nuanced understanding of the problem is in my opinion why customers have signed up in droves. It shows the importance of positioning and marketing your product correctly. Too often entrepreneurs are busy talking about their features when the should be addressing the core problem at hand. Another company that has experienced similar growth is Uber. Instead of positioning them as a taxi hailing application, they talk about solving our basic transportation needs.

These two examples show the importance of truly understanding the market you operate in. Without a deep understanding we will never be able to satisfy a customers core need. This would result in selling ourselves short and not living up to our true potential.

We Don’t Sell Saddles Here The highlighted article of the week is about the rise of Slack. This article provides the back story that formed the foundation of its massive growth. The primary focus of the article is the importance of understand the core customer need. This enables the entrepreneur to position and market their company far more effectively.

How Do I Know If I Should Take A Job At A Startup? James Altucher shares another great post on whether to join a startup. The most important point shared is the one related to vision. If the companies purpose and vision doesn’t excite you, in my opinion that is a deal breaker. This advice is the same whether you are applying to a startup or hoping to join P&G.

36 Things I’ve Learned During My First Three Months Investing Reading articles from the point of view of entrepreneurs turned investors is interesting. This article provides a great set of lessons learned. Entrepreneurs who are raising venture financing would benefit from reading this list. Getting an insight into the mind of your customer is essential and this list is a great starting point.

The High Price of the Wrong Solution Articles which use stories to illustrate a point are very effective. This is a great example of such an article. The main takeaway from the article is about assessing how your solution is tackling a problem at hand. Far too often we get bogged down with the details and lose sight of the bigger picture. This story helps to bring some perspective.

Want to Hire More Diverse People? Raise Your Bar. A majority of companies treat recruiting as a one off activity. Without a process we are solely relying on luck to fill important roles. This post provides a brief overview of what some structure would like. The post also includes some links which are well worth the read as well.

Hope Is Not a Launch Strategy Launching your startup to the world can be nerve racking experience. This article goes through the exact launch process of a startup called Leanflix. It is full of detailed advice on what to look out for during launch. What I liked the most about the post was that they showed what worked and what didn’t. Lots of great insights to be learned.

Inside The Mind That Built Google Brain: On Life, Creativity, And Failure This article profiles the life of Andrew Ng. An engineer who is working in the field of artificial intelligence. I enjoy reading detailed profiles on successful individuals. One gets to learn the habits they attribute to their success and what truly drives them. This is a fascinating article and his thoughts on the future of artificial intelligence is well worth the read.

Little Lifehacks Guaranteed to Improve Your Existence If all of us aim to be 1% better everyday, we can achieve the impossible. This short article highlights 10 things we can do to make our lives just a little bit better. My favorite lifehack is to schedule walk and talk meetings. I look forward to each one of these and believe they are far more productive than your usual meetings over coffee.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!