Why Now?

Monday, July 12 (2021) | 2 min read

A study conducted by Bill Gross determined that the single most important factor that correlated with startup success was timing.

In other words, why now?

If you haven’t watched it, it’s short and worth watching.


The problem I have with timing as a success factor is it very easily falls prey to survivor and hindsight bias — where it’s too easy to attribute both success and failure to luck.

That said, there are certainly better times than others to start.

Ironically, it has statistically been shown that the better time to start isn’t during good times, but bad times. Uber, AirBnb, Apple, Microsoft, HP, IBM, Amazon, Netflix, Zoom all were either started during recessions and/or saw significant growth during a downturn.

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It boils down to this:

Innovation is fundamentally about causing a switch from an old way to a new way. During bad times, customers experience intrinsic switching triggers which lower the barrier for behavior change.

And last year, 2020, definitely falls in that latter category.

The COVID - Black Swan webinar I ran last year has a lot more details on this and worth watching (if you haven't already).


But even when you find yourself in one of these switching triggers, you still need to move fast and outlearn other founders (just like yourself) who inevitably get hit with the same idea spark.

A more helpful question then is asking: How do you quickly test an idea for timing and outlearn the competition?

Reducing cycle time on an idea is actionable.
Timing an idea is not.

Reducing cycle time on an idea equates to speed of learning. This where rapid experimentation and evidence-based decision-making come in.

They are both key pillars in the continuous innovation framework we teach.

But even those aren’t enough.

A rapid experimentation framework is still subject to the quality of ideas you put in and the learnings (insights) you take out.

A counter-intuitive property of breakthrough innovation is that it doesn’t come through validation, but invalidation.

If you already knew what was going to happen, where is the breakthrough in that?

So an even better question to ask is: How do you quickly determine whether the time for a good idea has come?

This is the question we set out to answer in the 90-Day Startup program.

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The promise of 90DS is getting you to an evidence-based go/no-go decision on an idea (in any domain) in 90-days.

We achieve this by employing a 4 step process of Discovery-Insights-Evidence-Traction (DIET).

Here are some highlights from each of these steps:

1. Discovery

  • Study customer behavior.
  • It’s not enough to run surveys or focus groups.
  • Carefully scripted 1:1 conversations work best.
  • Learn before you pitch.

2. Insights

  • Look for secrets (aka insights).
  • These are often irrational vs. rational in nature which is why they are hard to find.
  • Uncover and leverage triggering events.
  • Identify your true competition. It’s not often who you think it is.
  • Prioritize your top 1-3 (less is more) problems worth solving.

3. Evidence

  • Turn your key insights into falsifiable hypotheses.
  • Design the right solution.
  • Assemble a mafia offer - an offer your customers cannot refuse.

4. Traction

  • Test your mafia offer.
  • Optimize your mafia offer.
  • Automate demand generation.

Midnight (CST) tomorrow (July 13th, 2021) is the last day to apply for 90DS. I’ll be sending a final reminder email then to wrap up this mini-series.

If now is the right time for you, we'd love to see you in the next cohort.

Cheers.

Ash

P.S.

There's no time better than the present to start.