Sometimes, it seems like startups operate consuming whatever resources are available to it, whether that be an engineer’s time or a VC’s money. They need fuel and they can inhale it like the fat kid downing wieners at a free hot dog stand.
But sometimes the need to take use this energy is symptomatic of something else going on. It’s the forcing of forward movement — the acquisition of users or the shipping of new features — at any cost. It’s the fact that product-market fit is not there (yet), and it’s the result of people doing what it takes to try and get it.
But every so often, you get the chance to just strap yourself in and go along for the ride. To benefit from a force bigger than your efforts (or cash) that takes you where you want to go. It’s that moment where you drop into a wave and get the chance to do what you want on the face of it … style that site out, drop a little feature here or there, rock a split test or two. You get a chance to shine knowing that the wave is taking you in the right direction.
And then, just like after a wave, it fizzles. Sometimes it ends suddenly … sometimes you’ve fallen off … sometimes you make it into shore. But no matter what, you need to decide what you want to do … turn around and head back out again? Pick up your board and head home?
Either way, it’s up to you to get to where you want to go. And if you are heading out the back once more, you hope it’s not a long time between sets. Time can seem to pass very slowly whilst you are sitting there waiting for another wave. And sitting there, motionless, legs dangling in the water, you’ve never looked more attractive to sharks. Whether those are sharks looking to poach talent, or competitors targeting your customers, it’s not a great place to be.
But it does give you a chance for some serenity. Maybe take down some of that technical debt or think about the forces that were at work whilst you were riding that wave. Maybe just look around you and get some perspective. It’s not all bad …
And then, on the horizon, a harbinger of happiness. The wave. And so you start to paddle and get yourself in a position to make the most of this force once more. And then you feel it rise beneath you, and take you to the top and you get ready to drop in again.
The truth is that when you are going fastest toward your destination, there is normally something bigger pushing you there. This might be the fact that you have pinpointed a critical pain point. Or your growth efforts have started to bear fruit .. either way, it feels great. And it feels effortless. And that is kind of the point because nothing begets momentum like momentum. Like the biggest wave that started off as a ripple in the middle of the ocean, small things can have a large impact. But it’s only when you have this momentum behind you that you actually get to do the things you wanted. Surfing is not waxing your board. Or paddling out the back. Or waiting for a wave. But these are all necessary steps along the way to your desired goal.
It’s still early stage for us at HOMYZE. But we have had some of these periods where we can get to play on the face of a bigger force. And that’s when you realise … you’re a startup surfer.