Mazes and Fit: An Analogy

Note to my future self…

Today I have a short and sweet thought experiment that I want to tell you about. In the world of startup there’s a lot of focus on getting to product/market fit and rightly so. To a lesser extent, the analogy of startup founders as individuals traveling through the idea maze has also caught on.

Today while walking around Hayes Valley here in San Francisco I started thinking about how finding product/market fit is like finding your way out of a maze. The first time around it might take you months or even years! Most people give up before they get to the end of the maze. However, once you go through the maze you get placed back at the very beginning and you have to go through it again. You will remember most of the obstacles that you faced and occasionally you will stumble but every time you go through the maze you will do it a lot faster. This is your flywheel.

If we want we can go even further and say that the maze sometimes changes a bit to through us off even though it’s essentially the same journey. This can account for how things change at different stages of a startup’s journey.

I will acknowledge that this idea of startups founders as little rats that have to run through a maze might be heavily influence by me loving Flowers of Algernon as a child and reading a lot of psychology papers as an undergrad. Oh well ¯\(ツ)

Now back to work…