Denham Sadler | StartupSmart
Startup founders too often focus on superficial elements of running a business instead of what matters, Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian says.
Dubbing itself the “front page of the internet” Reddit is the 25th most visited website in the world and was valued at $US500 million in 2014.
During an AMA hosted by Product Hunt, the founder and tech investor revealed the most common mistake he says first-time founders make.“
First-time founders often delude themselves with doing things that ‘feel’ like doing a startup but aren’t actually what matters: writing code and getting users,” Ohanian says.“
Because there’s no syllabus to entrepreneurship, a lot of students who thrived in schools have problems adapting to a world where you don’t get clear feedback from the market about how well you’re doing.“
In school if you get a B on your paper you can figure out why, and adapt your behaviour to get an A for the class at the end. In business if you’re not showing growth or repeat use it could be for an infinite number of reasons that aren’t clear – you just have to keep testing your hypotheses.”
The question and answer sessions also included a number of insight takeaways on the growth of Reddit, building a dedicated community and why it pays to be a SaaS startup.
Reddit was launched in 2005 long before promoting a new platform was a breeze on social media.Ohanian says the extent of the startup’s marketing was email pitches to bloggers, and submitted a whole lot of links themselves to solve the chicken and the egg problem.“
Because we weren’t going to attract anyone to stick around with an empty Reddit frontpage, Steve [Huffman, co-founder] and I submitted links for the first month or so under different usernames,” he says.“
This helped new users understand that Reddit wasn’t some kind of stripped down blog Steve and I ran, but a new kind of community platform.“
Our first surge of traffic that didn’t come from brow-beaten friends was thanks to an essay Paul Graham wrote and gave us a great bump.“
People actually were using the site and a couple of months in Steve and I no longer needed to fake submissions, which was a pretty awesome feeling. It seemed like it just might work after all.”