I’ve always wondered why typical first-time employees go through something similar two to three years into their careers. You start to have doubts, feel like you are not growing fast anymore, find the temptation to jump to another company, or start studying again in a graduate school. I’ve felt it and many of my colleagues and friends have went through something similar. Some people call this (roughly translated) worker puberty, where one feels like she needs a big change in her career.
After working on my first startup for a bit more than four years, many of the entrepreneurs I’ve met seemed to have gone through something I’d like to call entrepreneur’s puberty. Assuming the pressure coming from doing a startup is bit more than that of a typical employee at a big firm, it seems like entrepreneur’s puberty hits a bit earlier in life — usually around 1.5 to 2 years into a startup.
We were meeting 6~8 people on a daily basis starting Monday til Friday, total of 36 mentors for Smile Family. The meetings usually takes place from 9am ~ 1pm with few short breaks in the middle, so basically most of them ends up to be back-to-back meetings.
Mentors are groups of successful entrepreneurs, angel investors, VCs, executives, or industry experts, so you get wide range of perspective into your business in a short period of time.
You get to play with your pitch, edit it here and there, literally doing A/B testing and optimizing in a short period of time to see which sticks, which works to whom and doesn’t and so forth.
So in the end, you get tons of feedback, tons of contradicting views and mix of emotions – ‘mentor whiplash’ – which you have to distill and prioritize.
It’s important to keep in mind that sometimes, your user base is part of your product. It takes certain amount of users to actually reach MVP.
How many users does it take to get the ecosystem going?
How many avg. # of friends/followers do you need to get the product run on its own?
How many avg. comments per post do you need to get the engagement up
… and so forth
There’s no one magic number for these kinds of questions, but obviously there will be a key threshold for almost all products that need some sort of networking effect to kick-in based on their product’s DNA.