What NOT to focus on for on-line success…

This morning I came across a presentation by Drew Houston (CEO of Dropbox) called Dropbox Startup Lessons Learned. On slide #24 I noticed a list of things they did poorly or didn’t do at all:

  • hiring non-engineers
  • mainstream PR
  • traditional messgaing/positioning
  • deadlines, process, “best practices”
  • having a “real” website
  • partnerships/bizdev
  • having lots of features

After reading that, I realized that Dropbox and Craigslist have a lot in common. We have a very small team and hire engineers carefully. We don’t do a lot of mainstream PR, marketing, positioning, etc. Our development isn’t deadline oriented and we don’t have the flashiest web site around. It’s more of utility over appearance for us. And we don’t have any sales or bizdev people. Like Dropbox, word of mouth is what really made Craigslist successful.

I really wish more companies put these things lower on their priority list–especially larger companies that have begun to suck (or have been sucking for quite some time). Once you do, you start to realize that what your users ultimately care about is having a great product that does what they need and doesn’t get in their way. If it’s great, they’ll tell others and get you more business as a byproduct.

What companies have you seen that follow this model?

About Jeremy Zawodny

I'm a software engineer and pilot. I work at craigslist by day, hacking on various bits of back-end software and data systems. As a pilot, I fly Glastar N97BM and high performance gliders in the northern California and Nevada area. I'm also the original author of "High Performance MySQL" published by O'Reilly Media. I still speak at conferences and user groups on occasion.
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4 Responses to What NOT to focus on for on-line success…

  1. rita says:

    You hit the nail right on the head i think alot of companies really need to cut there over head cost to really survive.

  2. I can think of at least one more… ;)

  3. T says:

    I can think of another..Pandora

  4. Anand Shah says:

    Another great company in the making (with a similar philosophy) is http://notionink.in (the company that will beat iPad)

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