, 16 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
1/ Today is 8 years since we founded @Segment! Like many startups, our first two years were brutal. The last six have been an insane ride. We made so many mistakes along the way, and owe so much to our early customers.
2/ While attending MIT and Y Combinator in Summer 2011 we built a classroom lecture tool called ClassMetric. YC constantly told us to solve real problems for our customers, but we somehow ignored this and 80% of the students just opened up Facebook instead of using our tool.
3/ Next we built a web analytics tool to compete with @Mixpanel and @googleanalytics, but they were already great tools... we had somehow managed to ignore YC's advice again. Real customers didn't have an issue with analytics.
4/ We burned over a year chasing ghosts of big visions of world domination without any customer traction. Be careful of big visions. Follow customer pain instead. The world doesn't care about your big idea, all that matters are customers.
5/ Finally, in December 2012, we were in the depths of despair. We were running out of money. I had lost 10 lbs in 2 weeks and been to the hospital twice for panic attacks. On December 10, 2012 we had a huge founder fight.
6/ .@ianstormtaylor and @calvinfo had an idea to open source this little javascript library we'd written, called analytics.js. @ivolo quickly got excited about it, but I was skeptical. What a terrible business idea, I thought.
7/ How could a 500-line javascript library that was already open source be a good business? I couldn't see the big vision in it.
8/ And yet... the big vision is not what matters. What matters is whether it solves a customer problem. And boy, did it do that.
9/ In my skepticism, I convinced the team to launch a landing page on Hacker News to test the idea. I was sure this would kill it.
10/ To my surprise, github.com/segmentio/anal… blew up on HN, sat at #1 most of the day, generated thousands of signups for a hosted beta product that didn't exist, and had people pinging us on LinkedIn demanding access to the beta... which again, did not exist 😅
11/ The experience was a shock to my system. The customers had spoken. Big visions didn't matter, solving customer problems did. Just like YC had told us. How could I have been so slow!?
12/ We flipped our mental model completely, and started spending all our time with our budding customer base, building the things they needed.
13/ Sometimes we'd even build a new @Segment integration while live-chatting with the customer, so that they could get data into the tool that they needed. Real customer problems.
14/ There are so many early customers who've become heroes to us: @guillaumecabane, @zeke, @hawkinsjon, @thekidmacro and hundreds of others who've taken us from company to co, showed us repeatedly how to improve the product, spoken to investors on our behalf, and become friends.
15/ We're incredibly thankful to our customers. And we're committed to listening, learning and improving to solve your challenges. We learned 6 years ago that's all that matters :)
16/ And to any other startups out there searching for product-market fit, I hope this helps you skip 2 years of pain.
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