Four tips for startup success from a Silicon Valley VC

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Posted by Kacey Fahey, Marketing Programs Manager, Google Play




Working at Google Play, we’re on the front line watching developers build, polish, and launch their dreams for millions of users to experience. While it’s exciting to be a part of so much creativity, we’re often asked how small startups can stand out in such a competitive field. We recently had Josh Elman & Sarah Tavel of Greylock Partners speak at our events, sharing their experiences working in Product Marketing and Engineering at major tech companies including Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. Below are four tips to hit the ground running and create a business built for success.


Set goals, both large and small



Every startup has an ultimate goal, but don’t forget to create micro-goals. Breaking your larger goal down into smaller milestones creates checkpoints to review progress and ensure momentum is heading in the right direction. This also allows for flexibility if teams need to course correct along the way, not to mention micro-accomplishments to celebrate!



Create stickiness



The first level in Sarah’s Hierarchy of Engagement is to identify the core action for users to perform in your app. Once you have engagement with this core action, level 2 is driving retention, getting users to come back and perform the core action more and more. The ultimate goal is to hook users with your app creating accruing benefits, whereby deeper and more frequent engagement creates habits and product dependencies.











“As companies move up the hierarchy, their products become better, harder to leave, and ultimately create virtuous loops that make the product self-perpetuating,”
– Sarah Tavel, Partner at Greylock





Example: For those looking to improve on organizational skills, Evernote can be a lifesaver. The more lists users create, the more they rely on the product. Evernote becomes such an ingrained habit that it naturally transcends between personal and professional worlds.


Drive virality



When launching a new app, look for ways to achieve virality. Find hooks to make users fall in love with your app and strive to make it part of their regular habits. But watch out, not all types of virality are treated equally.




“Whenever you’re thinking about engineering virality, you need to be sure that you’re reaching the right people, getting them interested for reasons that align with the intrinsic value of your product, and leading them to the right actions,”
– Josh Elman, Partner at Greylock

Example: Whether you’re lucky enough to convert happy users into product evangelists or catch fire through social media, outbreak virality has driven tremendous success for apps like Pokémon GO and Prisma.


Measure cohorts

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While monitoring traditional mobile metrics such as installs and DAUs provide a high level overview of app performance, cohort analysis is key to understanding user behavior and optimizing for growth. When rolling out changes in your app, make sure to track cohorts for an extended duration. Initial results may tell one story at D7, but hold tight, as things could turn a corner by D15 or even later. Give users time to adapt and get comfortable with the changes before making any final product decisions.




Read more tips on how to find success for your app or game start up in the Playbook for Developers app.



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