Ray Moriya's Journal

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Traction is king for startups


Traction is king for startups. This is what I have been feeling recently. A myriad of startup services and ideas have come my way since I took the first steps on my own my startup journey. All of them seem dull and unpromising, and they should probably be that way by nature. If these ideas look brilliant and promising, somebody else including a big corporation with enough capital has commercialized them already. It's easy to criticize a service from a safe place as a member of an audience. If one is to become an entrepreneur, courage to face the music for immaturity in one's dull and unpromising service is essential.

What is a thing to transform such an unpromising business idea to a promising one? This is traction: to have a set of measurable users. People, including VCs or angel investors, cannot judge a new business model. Only traction can convince them. This is a reason why I am in a hurry to release our alpha service as soon as we can. I can tell why entrepreneurs are often recommended full-time commitment. You cannot stay positive when you receive hundreds of negative opinions on your unprecedented idea. You must give it your all when the time comes for the release of your minimum viable product at utmost speed, meanwhile paying less attention on external noise, and then make upgrades depending actual user feedback. 

This is something that people have to unlearn. To maintain the company reputation in a big corporation, you are not encouraged to make a mistake. This means you must demonstrate the viability of a theoretical concept with market data. By contrast, risk aversion is worse than error in the world of startups. Since your endeavor is novel, you will have no market data at your fingertips. To challenge conventional wisdom is the essence of startups per my definition. One must accept pain when building a startup, but there is excitement that is also to be had.