George Deeb | AlleyWatch
I recently got introduced to Bobby Martin, serial entrepreneur of First Research and Vertical IQ fame, and author of the new book, “The Hockey Stick Principles–The 4 Key Stages of Entrepreneurial Success.”
I thought he presented some really interesting views of the four stages of a startup’s typical growth curve, and he was nice enough to allow me to share it with all of you.
Bobby conducted a study that plotted the revenue growth of 172 successful startups for the first seven years from launch, covering a wide range of sectors from web leaders like Google and LinkedIn to non-Web businesses like Chobani yogurt, TOMS shoes, and video camera-maker GoPro.
The data showed that all but eleven saw what he called “hockey stick growth.”
Bobby then interviewed successful founders of different startups in depth, finding out exactly how they built their businesses, from initial concepts to business model development, along with product design, how it launched, and how a customer base and sales came about.
The more he delved into the founders’ stories and examined the growth curves for their businesses, the clearer it was that all successful startups experience four major stages of growth, which track along the hockey stick curve.
Each of these growth stages—which Bobby calls (1) the tinkering stage, (2) the blade years, (3) the growth-inflection point, and (4) surging growth—presents founders with its own distinctive challenges.
As Bobby compared the stories of more and more founders and how they faced these challenges, the commonalities between the businesses that succeeded, including Bobby’s own businesses, were striking, as were the similarities of the mistakes that were made by founders who failed.
The result is that Bobby identified a set of core principles to follow in each stage of growth, which he calls the Hockey Stick Principles. Below is a very high level of what each stage is about.