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β€œIn the Studio,” Greylock’s Josh Elman is Looking for Social Products with the Power to Incept | TechCrunch


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Interesting piece in which @joshelman talks about "inceptive" products, breaking down the distinction between growth and virality. I'm so much more interested in building a durable, sustainable growth, not a mutant virus.

It is really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, RUH-EEEEEALY hard to grow without virality.

Really.

Ah, to be clear my point wasn't to bash virality as a technique, but rather to focus on the quality of the resulting growth, a point Josh makes somewhere around minute 7:30. It seems to me that achieving the sustainable month-over-month growth, retention, engaged users is the goal.

I agree, viral techniques are certainly RUH-EEEEALY important, but I'm thinking of them almost as a form of advertising. The conversion to real growth is key though because I want users to keep coming back... I liked his term "inceptive" and the goal being "meaningful behavior on an ongoing basis." Users aren't going to do that if they aren't getting something out of it. I have to both make sure the message gets to them (virality) while ensuring that they're getting the value out of it to ensure meaningful growth.

I like the goal of "meaningful behavior on an ongoing basis", too.

But it sure does feel like there are thousands of apps vying for the same (small) amount of attention any given person has.

Am I missing something?

I mean, how many "incept" apps are there at scale? Wikipedia, LinkedIn, Flickr, Facebook, WordPress, YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr, GitHub, Instagram... Any others?

Well, Adam, I think you're exactly right. If you're actually able to get a user to try your app (perhaps because of a viral factor that spread it from a friend,) you now have to win the competition for their attention and their time. Only then will they come back to it.

The only way you're going to be able win that competition is if the user finds real and meaningful value in the app. Once they find value, the app has to keep re-inventing itself to keep up with competing demands on users' time.

I think that's especially interesting as users go through different phases of life. When you're young and out of school, but don't have a family, you have a relative wealth of time. As you grow older and start raising a family, well, leisure time is much more difficult. Asking a user to spend that time with your app -- even if they used to be devoted fans -- becomes much more difficult.

I actually think many of the apps that have been successful in the last couple of years spread virally, but they also managed to deliver value, entertainment, relaxation, even in very small chunks of time. As a busy mom myself, I have to say that Words with Friends and Instagram fall into that category for me. When I take up one I usually drop another. (Your PandaWhale, for instance, sorta sat on my Words... that's okay though, my friend was crushing me.)

Oh, sorry we sat on your Words, Barbara, but at least you never lose on PandaWhale! :)

We were discussing how being an adult means acing very little leisure time, which makes it harder to make new friends, here: http://pandawhale.com/convo/3429/the-challenge-of-making-friends-as-an-adult-nytimescom

As far as vitality and apps go, it's gotta not overwhelm the user. Instagram and Words were both viral in the friends shared them with you, but you're not overwhelmed by the activity on those apps. That's important -- be valuable, entertaining, relaxing, etc. but don't be too much!

I enjoyed this. It seemed like he was nicely connecting virality to retention, to understanding the value of the offering to steady growth and engagement. he looks at the full picture.

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