Product-First or Movement-First Startup

When I reflect on four of the fastest-growing ~100 person startups in town, it’s clear that they fall into one of two camps: product-first company or movement-first company.

Product-first companies absolutely adore their own product. Everything centers around building an amazing product that customers love and everything else comes second. Internally, software engineers and the product team are put up on a pedestal and the hierarchy is clear. Product-first companies are all about the product.

Movement-first companies are on a mission greater than themselves. Everything centers around educating the market about this better way to do things, most often through live events and heavy sales and marketing. Internally, sales and marketing teams are hard-charging and at the center of the company. Movement-first companies are all about creating a movement.

What’s the better route? Both are great ways to do it and have their own pros and cons, and both produce very successful businesses. Startups that aren’t amazing at one or the other often fail. Pick one thing and do it well.

What else? What are some more thoughts about product-first and movement-first startups?

2 thoughts on “Product-First or Movement-First Startup

  1. Hey David, interesting to hear you put it as “movement first” versus saying audience first.

    What’s great about building an audience first is it gives you access to a broader market to test your product. Personally, I’d much rather chose the best customers and derisk this side of the equation before focusing too much on building product.

    The downside of audience first, is you run the risk of not being able to narrow in on a particular segment of passionate users. Or perhaps you discover you’re building the wrong audience for the product you actually want to create.

    Either way, the choice really depends on your assets as a founder. If you’re particularly talented in one approach versus the other, it probably makes sense to start there.

  2. David, I’m an avid reader of your blog. At Apptio we’ve definitely leaned into both but I’m a big believer in the movement.

    Thanks for your thoughts and keep them coming.

    Chris

    Chris Pick
    CMO, Apptio | President, Technology Business Management Council
    +1.206.747.7465

    [http://media.apptio.com/signature/apptio-email-signature.jpg]

    From: David Cummings on Startups
    Reply-To: David Cummings on Startups
    Date: Tuesday, October 11, 2016 at 7:21 PM
    To: Chris Pick
    Subject: [New post] Product-First or Movement-First Startup

    David Cummings posted: “When I reflect on four of the fastest-growing ~100 person startups in town, it’s clear that they fall into one of two camps: product-first company or movement-first company. Product-first companies absolutely adore their own product. Everything centers”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s