[David Strom's Web Informant] The Science of Growth is an essential startup guidebook

David Strom david at strom.com
Mon May 23 06:59:30 EDT 2016

​Web Informant, May 23, 2016: The Science of Growth is an essential startup

Oh no, not another startup business strategy book! But Sean Ammirati’s
debut, The Science of Growth
is a meaty and useful manual for any entrepreneur that is looking to grow
their business and learn from the mistakes and triumphs of the past.
Ammirati and I worked together several years ago at ReadWrite.com, and now
he is a Pittsburgh-based VC and business professor at Carnegie Mellon
University. He offers plenty of wisdom here.

Many business books don’t have much to say after you have read their first
chapter. The Science of Growth has a lot of useful takeaways, including
exploding the myths of the first mover and always having a big launch
event. He also explains why the best technology or getting the most VC
funding doesn’t always make a company successful.

The book takes pairs of companies and looks at why Facebook, Google and
McDonalds succeeded while Friendster, Yahoo and White Castle didn’t.
Ammirati delves into four key prerequisites for growing your business: the
founders should share a core vision, the basic idea should be scalable, it
should solve a real problem and provide a solid first interaction. He then
compares a set of ten paired companies to show how they differ.

For example, Facebook was later to the market and took longer to grow its
first million customers than Friendster but had a more focused approach and
created a better initial experience for its customers. McDonald borrowed
money to finance its growth while White Castle didn’t. Google had a clean
home page while Yahoo’s was cluttered with categories. Wordpress was easier
to install than Movable Type to get started with blogging. And so forth.

The book catalogs some major movements that were critical to companies’
growth. Twitter is largely credited with launching at the 2007 SXSW show,
but it used clever marketing to bring attention to its then seven-month old
product by paying for video monitors that it placed in the hallways to
attract conference goers. Airbnb got a boost when Denver residents listed
their spare rooms for Democrats who wanted to come there to hear Obama’s
2008 convention speech. Wordpress took advantage of the moment in 2004 when
Movable Type started charging for its blogging software.

For those who want to learn from the mistakes of the past so their
businesses can find future growth, this is essential reading. Your comments
always welcome too: http://blog.strom.com/wp/?p=5332

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