What kills velocity
Plus, how to know if you're moving fast enough, and what to do if you're not
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Hi, friends 👋
Last week I put a stake in the ground saying that beehiiv will likely win the newsletter market. According to their numbers guy, Edward W., they grew 10x between 2022 and 2023 across customer, revenue, and MRR. And as per Lightspeed who led their Series A, they see beehiiv growing quickly beyond their current niche of email newsletters and into their larger TAM: the $100B email marketing category.
Why I think they will win, and why I agree with Lightspeed’s assessment that they will outgrow their current market, really boils down to their exceedingly fast and tenacious moves in the right direction.
And velocity just means how quick you’re shipping new product work. AKA, the speed that you launch incremental value to customers.
It’s also one of those things that’s hard to put a metric against. But it’s also a lot like product-market fit, because you should know when you have it. If you have to ask if you’re moving fast enough, you’re probably not. Even if you do have it, you’ll always want more of it.
To be clear, speed (an output) isn’t the be-all-and-end-all. The simple obsession with launching new features for the sake of speed can be detrimental. Impact (an outcome) matters more. So does strategy, which is how you prioritize multiple intended outcomes.
But for startups, how fast you move is one of the biggest predicators for success. That’s because speed drives your learning cycle and ability to nimbly adjust to market feedback, which for a company that knows very little, knowledge and validated assumptions from the market mean everything. As the man with the most proximity to startups, Paul Graham, said:
The mere rate of shipping new features is a surprisingly accurate predictor of startup success. In this domain, at least, slowness is way more likely to be due to inability than prudence. The startups that do things slowly don't do them any better. Just slower.
To put that visually:
Now, outside of inspiration from the beehiiv deep dive, I chose to write this post for a few personal reasons. For one, I was responsible for fucking up my own teams velocity at my first startup. I knew very little about building product in 2016, and I made several bad decisions which impacted our early success or, rather lack of it.
Two, I’m frustrated by my current teams velocity. I feel the slowness, and I wanted to put thought to paper around how I can help my team move faster.
So, in todays subscriber-only post, here’s what we’ll be covering.
Briefly, how to know if you’re moving quick enough
Primarily, what kills a teams velocity
Finally, tactical things you can do to help your team move faster
Bonus, an exclusive quote from Tyler around beehiiv’s secret to speed
Let’s get into it. 🏎️
p.s If you’re not a paid reader yet and are on the fence, besides unlocking this post right now and joining us for a walk in the garden (see what I did there?), here’s the next three topics I’ve been thinking about writing in this column:
The new couch problem
Is your product like a Japanese toliet? If not, why is should be.
What makes a shitty acquisition
To keep getting these posts, support my work, and generally just invest in your product and career (the best investment you can make), consider upgrading to paid. (It’s expensible too)