Thriving on Chance – Probabilities and Startups

Rob Ireton http://www.flickr.com/photos/aoisakana/Photo: Rob Ireton http://www.flickr.com/photos/aoisakana/

Before I started Drifty, I found it difficult to imagine a world where people did things like click on ads, respond to surveys, put phone numbers on sign up forms, sign in with Facebook, or even purchase services on the web.

For a long time, this kept me from getting my products out there and having the courage to charge and provoke a fair value exchange, and to engage and understand my customers.

As a first time entrepreneur, I figured it was more like an all or nothing game: everyone will buy the product and you will have a real company, or no one will and you will have to move on to something else.

The reality is far from that, and you know what? That’s an amazing thing.

Just like in the real world, events don’t happen with 100% probability, but they are also non-zero. Over time, the occurrence will be measurable and potentially something we can reason about.

This means that when you do something new, like charge for your product or ask visitors to give you some more information on who they are and what they are trying to achieve with your product, some of them will do it!

But just because a few people will doesn’t mean you have a good business on your hands. You then need to see if the positive occurrences are frequent enough that you can continue to grow. This is the hard part of transitioning from a product people are interested in to a company that can grow and satisfy your growing expectations.

Just last night we started asking for optional phone numbers on our sign up forms for Codiqa. I was intensely skeptical people would fill that field in. I woke up to 50 phone numbers that we can use to follow up and more effectively sell our products to customers that genuinely want us to solve their problems. That represented 30% of new accounts created during the night.

Not 100%, but a quantity we can get to work on. And that’s what startups are all about.