Doing Things that Don’t Scale: Unpacking An Important Concept for Startups


This post is by MPD from @MPD – Medium


Why Do Startups Need to Do Things That Don’t Scale?

Launching a startup is an exhilarating journey filled with uncertainty and potential. One critical lesson often emphasized in entrepreneurial circles is the necessity of doing things that don’t scale in the early stages of a business. But what does this mean, and why is it so crucial for startups? This article will explore these questions, delving into practical examples and insights to help founders understand and apply this concept effectively.

What Does “Doing Things That Don’t Scale” Mean?

Paul Graham, the founder of Y Combinator, famously popularized the concept of doing things that don’t scale. This principle encourages startups to engage in manual, labor-intensive tasks that wouldn’t be sustainable as the company grows but are essential in the early stages to build a strong foundation. These tasks might include personal customer service, direct sales, and hands-on product development.

Why Is This Approach Essential for Startups?

1. Building Relationships with Customers

One of the primary reasons for doing things that don’t scale is to establish and nurture relationships with customers. Unlike established companies that can rely on digital marketing campaigns to attract customers, startups need to get personal. Example: When Seamless first launched, its founders personally contacted law firms in New York, took their lunch orders, placed those orders at restaurants, and oversaw the delivery. This hands-on approach helped them build direct relationships with both customers and suppliers, gaining deep insights into their needs and preferences.

2. Testing and Validating Concepts

Manual (Read more…)