How to predict if a super early-stage startup will succeed — looking back at our first 100 founders at Tacklebox.

H/T to Wait But Why for showing us non-design inclined folks that we can make helpful pictures, too.

Paddling at Night

Being an early-stage founder feels like being in a rowboat in the middle of the ocean in the dead of night. You’re paddling, but you’ve got no idea if you’re headed in the right direction. Seth calls this entrepreneurial right of passage The Dip (you should read that). The journey from “no one cares about your product” to “lots of people care a lot about your product” is unpredictable, and reaching the destination is not guaranteed.

North Star

The first question I ask founders applying to Tacklebox is a straightforward one: “Why are you working on this?” Only one answer has a shot.

Trust the Process.

If I asked you to talk to a cute girl in your yoga class, it’d be stressful. You’d delay it for a few weeks, it’d take up a ton of headspace, and you’d stink at yoga until you did it. Maybe I’m just projecting.

I have steadily endeavored to keep my mind free so as to give up any hypothesis, however much beloved, as soon as the facts are shown to be opposed to it — C. Darwin

Characteristics 2, 3, and 4 work in concert to build the machine, gaining information from your customers actions so you can make decisions that actually move you towards your North Star. The goal is to create a repeatable process you lean on to make big decisions, making every interaction with your customers count.

A week of tests
Each process will be unique — I’m trying to crack the nut to help early-stage founders do this quick. Sign up if interested in some early testing.



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We help founders with full-time jobs validate their startup before they quit. The posts are tactics we use.