Path Dependency of Startup

Today I came across this great talk by John Collison and of the key takeaways for me is this idea that:

“Startups end up having a powerful path dependence. It’s not just a question of arriving at the final answer and if you had found that final answer earlier you could have gotten there much quicker. It’s a question of building a set assumptions, following those and continually revisiting them. You’re not trying to arrive at a final form for your product. You’re trying to get at all the intermediate forms and chemical reactions that get you there.”

John goes on to mention some classic examples including Microsoft starting in the compilers market and then moving into software/enterprise and Uber shifting from a limo service to this idea of transportation as a commodity.

Takeaway

In all honesty, I’ve made this mistake myself whenever I think that had I known 6 months ago what I know now I could have made a lot more progress in a lot less time.

If anything this talk was a great reminder that it’s a fallacy to think that you can figure out the final version of your product and then quickly get to that. Speed is crucial but metamorphosis is inevitable.