Leave a comment
Get the GH Bookmarklet

Ask GH

I've been reading Ben Horowitz's book "The Hard Thing About Hard Things" (highly recommended for founders/CEOs). In his book he mentions that innovation that is only 2-3X better than the old way is not good enough to encourage people to switch. He said it needs to be at least 10X better. I think this is an interesting point because if it's true, many marketers and growth hackers may be facing an impossible task. Obviously 10X better is pretty hard to measure, but I'd love people's thoughts on this general principle.

Here's his specific quote " The primary thing that any technology startup must do is build a product that’s at least 10 times better at doing something than the current prevailing way of doing that thing. Two or three times better will not be good enough to get people to switch to the new thing fast enough or in large enough volume to matter. The second thing that any technology startup must do is to take the market. If it’s possible to do something 10X better, it’s also possible that you won’t be the only company to figure that out. Therefore, you must take the market before somebody else does. Very few products are 10X better than the competition, so unseating the new incumbent is much more difficult than unseating the old one."

  • DL

    Dylan La Com

    over 5 years ago #

    How do you measure how many times better the product is? 3x for some may be 10x for others. Seems like an inconsistent measurement to me.

    What makes more sense to me is whether or not an innovative product is good enough to establish a beachhead in a market from which you can build traction. It seems to make more sense as a binary question, IMO.

    • SE

      Sean Ellis

      over 5 years ago #

      I agree that for traction, "good enough" is good enough. But I wonder how many marketers are struggling with a product that is good enough for traction but not good enough to achieve significant scale. IMHO, there is no point in doing a startup that doesn't aim to achieve significant scale.

      Interestingly, Marc Andreessen (Ben Horowitz's VC partner), popularized the concept of product/market fit. That is a more binary concept that 10X better, but still pretty vague.

      In either case, I'm certain that a great product in a great market is way easier to grow than one that doesn't fit that criteria. I doubt anyone would disagree with that point. The question in my mind is, are you fighting a lost cause if your product isn't 10X better than the incumbent? Should you be prioritizing resources toward growing a 2X better product or should you prioritize resources toward improving the product/market fit?

      It seems to me that not enough people in growth roles ask those questions.

  • ND

    Nate Desmond

    over 5 years ago #

    I'd be interested to see how the 10x concept melds with blue ocean strategy.

    Do you have to be 10x better at everything, or can you be 10x better at doing x for y audience?

    • SE

      Sean Ellis

      over 5 years ago #

      Definitely seems like it would be 10X for doing Y for X audience. Y needs to be important and X needs to be big.

      Blue ocean strategy actually seems like an interesting counter to the 10X. My understanding of blue ocean strategy is that it is essentially about creating a whole new category rather rather bringing an incremental improvement to an existing category.

      • PG

        Pushkar Gaikwad

        over 5 years ago #

        True, Blue Ocean is about creating new markets or tapping to vast new markets, Bhoritiwz is talking more about disrupting the existing market and players with 10X better product,

      • BB

        Brij Bhasin

        over 5 years ago #

        I think products can become 10X better by offering the users value though 2-3X jump in different aspects of the overall vision. For eg. the new product could be 3X better on design, 2x better on business model and 4x better on technology for building a comprehensive offering that hits the 10X proposition. I wrote a blog post on this recently - http://www.gsfindia.com/blog/going-global-delivering-10x-customer-delight/

  • TD

    Tiffany Dasilva

    over 5 years ago #

    Not sure if anyone else didn't get the blue ocean strategy reference but I had to look it up.. For anyone confused here it is:

    "the term describes how instead of working in conditions, known as the red ocean, where businesses are viciously fighting against each other for a share of the marketplace, organizations should try and find a way to work in a marketplace that isn't bloodied by the competition and is free of competitors."
    :)

  • JG

    Jim Gray

    over 5 years ago #

    Not really. You just need to find some axis that some segment of customers care about & can't currently satisfy adequately.

    The thing is that, because of perception and sensitivity and so forth, a "1.1x improvement" can easily feel 10x better, or so much better that there's really no competition between the two (for some specific customer segment).

    Discussion varies if we're talking about B2C segments where novelty & social dynamics are a dominant factor, or under issues like deciding between "modestly successful company" versus "bets that a VC would prefer, but which significantly reduce individual odds of company success."

  • PG

    Pushkar Gaikwad

    over 5 years ago #

    Don't Agree.

    I think it is too generic statement anyway though the underline feeling is very clear with which I agree, be so good that there is nothing to compare.

Join over 70,000 growth pros from companies like Uber, Pinterest & Twitter

Get Weekly Top Posts
High five! You’re in.
SHARE
8
8