202.577.3350 will@willmarlow.com

Sometimes it’s a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket.  This is one of the key lessons of the startup bible, Crossing the Chasm, which I’m re-reading right now.

The Chasm is the place where many high-tech startups die.  It’s the gap between the early market of innovators (people who are enthusiastic about buying a groundbreaking product that is only 80 percent complete) and the pragmatists (the people who look at a product that is 80 percent complete and say, Where’s the other 20 percent?). 

In order to leap across the Chasm, you need to commit to building the “whole product” for at least one target customer.  Rather than making the common mistake of building a product that’s got something for all your potential target customers, you need to give just one target customer everything.  If you do that, you’ll get your first round of pragmatist customers, who will be your reference base as you seek to get more pragmatist customers.  (Don’t forget: there are a lot more pragmatists than there are innovators, so you’ll want your reference base to be full of pragmatists so they can tell their friends.)

I regularly recommend Geoffrey Moore’s book Crossing the Chasm to other people who work at startups.  For now, this book, along with the sequel, Inside the Tornado and Guy Kawasaki’s Art of the Start, stands alone as required reading for entrepreneurs, in my opinion.  If anyone has suggestions for books that they would recommend to entrepreneurs, please let me know at will@alumnifidelity.com, or @willmarlow, or in comments below, or let me know when you run into me on the street 🙂