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Startup Myth: A good product is all you need to be successful

Published: Apr 27, 2011 5:07 pm

Having a good product won’t make your startup successful.

Listen to this unfortunate story I recently heard. Entrepreneur X and his team spent months building a “perfect” app. They poured over every line of code and aligned every pixel. They kept their heads down and worked hard. The project wrapped up and they pushed it live. On the precipice of launch day they hired temporary help to handle all of the buzz they were sure they were about to receive.

When the startup launched the next day, sales were completely flat. This company bought into the myth that a good product is all you need to build a successful business.

A good product is simply not enough. It’s an ingredient but it’s not the whole cake. Multiple things need to happen asynchronously with development to maximize your products launch. This is why having a hustling co-founder is so important. Let the engineers focus on building platforms and let the hustler focus on these things.


Marketing begins well before the product launches. If you want a good example of a marketing plan, checkout Mint’s Original Marketing Plan (circa 2007). This is a fantastic place to start.


Who is your product for? You need to tell your products story in a way that makes sense to your target market. Your narrative isn’t a bolted on feature, it’s the heart of your product. Your narrative should effect everything from design decisions, to customer support, to which features you implement.

P.S. If your target market is “everyone”, you need to focus.


You need to be continuously talking to your customers. Find out what makes them excited about your product. Discover their pain points. Doing this makes it easy to line up customers before you even launch. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. I can not overstate the importance of relationships in business.

Your turn: What else does a hustler need to do to help his startup succeed?

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Hi, I'm Paul Hontz.

I'm a YC alumn and I love startups. I created TSF to highlight companies I find interesting. You can learn more about me here.

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