Startups Are Like Dating

I frequently joke that working at a startup is a great analogy for dating.

It generally starts hot and heavy and you don’t know if this is goingHolding Hands on the Beach to be a great relationship or the ex from hell.  Having experienced both extremes with startups, I recommend that you take each of them with a light attitude, a determination to try and make sure to enjoy the ride. If you find that one isn’t working out there is no shame in being honest and ending it quickly and moving on to the next startup. Once you have seen enough startups, you begin to find the patterns of the ones that appeal to your sensibilities and which will keep you engaged to the best of your abilities.

Recently the analogy showed a little more depth when I was discussing with friends about most Web 2.0 websites tried to use the same techniques to get customers that Pickup Artists (wikipedia) use to get dates.

  • Quickly identify who in a crowd you would like to meet.
    • Send lots of email to people who could use your website.
  • Introduce yourself and quickly demonstrate that you’re something special/have unusual value
    • Create a special welcome landing page for first time visitors telling them about yourself. Make sure website design communicates correct image.
  • Get them to state an opinion about anything to see if they are interested in talking. If not, move on.
    • Collect any information from the customer via clickstream, keyword analysis, or customer provided poll information
  • Tell them something about themselves that they don’t know and imply you can  tell them more if they hang around.
    • Create personalization based off collected interactions and tell them how much better it would be if they keep using the website.
  • Take them to somewhere private and create trust
    • Communicate private information using SSL protocol
  • Get their email address.
    • Well……yeah.
  • Set their expectations you will contact them later to meet again.
    • Create permission based marketing email to entice them to interact with your website some more.
  • Ask them to invite their friends to meet you.
    • Provide incentives about how much better the website is by encouraging all their friends to join.

I don’t know what is scarier, that the analogues are so close, or that nobody has done a more systematic analysis as to which of these techniques are  successful.

Don’t hate the player. Hate the game.

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