Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Looks like I have traction, but no connections. Where to go?
7 points by r_z_ on Aug 13, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 16 comments
The company I founded (a social web startup) is getting about 100 new users per day organically (would be more but I can't afford to let them all in), second day retention is between 60 and 70 percent, activation is about 20%, and the people who say they would be "Very Disappointed" if they didn't have the product is 42%.

By these measurements it would seem I have reached PM Fit, but I have absolutely no connections to raise a seed round. I live in Los Angeles, but wouldn't be averse to moving to SV. Any tips?

Apply to an incubator. That's what they're for: providing connections.

This was the logical next step, but they seem to have something against solo founders, and I am averse to taking on a co-founder ONLY to appease.

Edit: Not opposed to taking on a cofounder if they provide an adequate amount of value other than pacifying incubator/accelerator/investor fears.

You're right in that there's a negative bias towards solo founders, but having traction trumps that to a large degree. I would give it a shot.

Part of the aversion is because, to succeed, you will have to hire people. Investors don't invest in companies that don't need to hire people.

So, when you're a solo founder, it gives the vibe that you haven't figured that out yet (you won't even get another founder, even though it takes no cash, you have traction, etc.).

So, to counter that bias, just make it clear in your application that hiring people, finding a co-founder, etc. is VERY high on your priority list at the incubator.

Good luck!

Build-in time for strategic networking. Create a Top 10-20 list of social web players (Linkedin is a good search tool). *Important: actually, reach out to these folks for a live conversation (first by phone). They need to hear your voice and vice-versa. If there's good tonality, schedule a meetup in person for more dialog.

For consumer apps, you would need millions of page views/ users / daily interactions to declare product/market fit. I would wait for some more time. Get more users, interactions and then decide on applying to incubators of moving to SV. You will be in strong position then.

It would be really helpful to have some more context.

(0) Can you link to the product?

(1) When did you start and what has the growth trajectory been (e.g., weekly growth rate)?

(2) Is there some marginal cost other than server space that is limiting growth?

0. I would have linked to the product, but I'm honestly trying to avoid anymore sources of traffic. It's a microblogging platform wherein all posts have a shelf life determined by the user. Currently building the iOS app, but won't release that until the product can handle even more growth.

1. I started part time about a year ago, full time about 6 months ago. I recently completed the survey (I think created by Sean Ellis; with a few tweaks), and implemented based on that. This resulted in a spike in growth in the past week, but I fear that'll only hurt if the product stays as slow as it is now on the current hosting situation.

2. Server space is the only cost limiting growth, unless the stats have fooled me and it's really not at PM fit; in which case marketing would be another cost.

Something is weird here.

How would you rate your skills as a developer? If you're having performance issues with very little traffic it might be more worthwhile to include someone with better technical skills than you rather than raising money. Scaling is a linear thing based on the number of machines and if you already have some slow warts you'll burn through any money that you raise very quickly. Not to mention, an accelerator or Angel hearing about your technical woes this early will probably require you to have a technical partner anyway.

My other thought is you might be cheap. There's nothing wrong with that, it's good to be cost conscious but if you have demand you have to scale. Saying that server space is limiting growth is a very odd limitation to have.

Given how cheap server space is why that is limiting you, you should be able to get a few hundred gigs of space for a few dollars ?

Also you shouldn't have performance issues with your numbers, you should be able to comfortably run a site with 100k users off a cheap server. Maybe you should spend some time analyzing the source of your performance issues.

True. I'll look deeper into that today as well, but the question remains the same.

Perhaps start with Angellist. Angels are pretty approachable, and many are happy to make introductions to VC funds if appropriate.

Look for angels in the LA area, too. There are some!

Ask your customers to pay $5/month and bootstrap. Then, with revenue, look for investors if that's the path you want.

If this is a "social" product then getting more users should be the first priority. Monetizing too early will slow down user growth (maybe even lead to starvation), and only limit options for monetizing later on, when it really matters. That's why Twitter, etc only started monetizing recently.

I fear that would only alter the question: "I have traction. Retention, activation, >40% very disappointed, AND revenue, with no connections..."

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact