Finding your startup’s “moment”

There is a magical time in the relationship between products and peoples I referrer to as “the moment.”

“The moment” is the exact time when an individual, after engaging your product, “gets it.”
By “gets it” I mean they understand your product’s value proposition at such a deep level that they:

  1. get excited
  2. have an epiphany of sorts
  3. can explain the value of your product to others easily

It’s a great exercise to look back at various services and “the moment” at which you got them. Here are some common examples:

  • “The Windows Moment” happened for me in the 80s when I realized I could cut and paste information from one program into another, and that I could leave one application open all the time.
  • “The Blackberry Moment” happened for me when I realized that email was actually pushed–rather than pulled–to the device AND that I could simply forward my email to the device.
  • “The GMAIL Moment” happened for me when I realized that I would never have to delete or archive email again, and that a search index was built on the fly (as opposed to say Eudora which I used for years and which had VERY slow search).
  • “The Linkedin Moment” happened for me when I realized that I could search for people with PHP skill, in Los Angeles, and that worked at Shopzilla or Yahoo (i.e. local companies). I never liked headhunters, and I had realized LinkedIn’s value: you could hire folks quickly and easily.
  • “The Silicon Alley Reporter Moment” happened for me when we created the Silicon Alley 100 list. At that moment we realized people would have no choice but pay attention to us.
  • The blog/Weblogs, Inc. Moment” happened for me when I realized you could remove 70% of the cost of traditional publishing by NOT having editors, office space, a printer, or stamps. Before this I ran a magazine (Silicon Alley Reporter–wish it had a better wikipedia page) and so I couldn’t understand a publishing business without editors. Really glad I had that moment. 🙂

Recently, by doing massive user testing in our lab and by watching twitter, we figured out what “the Mahalo moment” is. The Mahalo moment happens when someone is desperate for a comprehensive overview of a subject and our page is of *extremely* high quality in terms of two things: a) a fact-filled Guide Note and b) amazing, well-organized links.

To be frank, we weren’t having half the Mahalo moments before we started writing 300-400 word Guide Notes with citations. However, after we retrained and recomposed out team to focus on writing great guide notes, we’ve seen a MASSIVE spike in people understanding the value of Mahalo.

Today’s had their Mahalo moment.

It’s a glorious feeling when this happens to be sure. The light from God above shines down on you and bake in warm glory that is threading the entrepreneurial needle. When I did the Silicon Alley Reporter 100 list I felt this warm glow, and when Peter Rojas’ blazing star showed up at Weblogs, Inc. and we started creating blogs with their own highly branded domain names and LARGE staffs.

It took me about a year to find the “Mahalo moment,” and interestingly, that is almost EXACTLY how long it took to come up with the idea for the Silicon Alley 100 and Engadget.

What’s the lesson here? For me it’s that you have to just frackin’ start. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll find your moment. When you do find the moment DOUBLE DOWN, THEN TRIPLE DOWN, and THEN DOUBLE DOWN AGAIN ON IT! Slam it home.

…. and for a startup company there is nothing warmer then that moment. Feels so good.

{ Photo via CC: breakthrough }

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