Choosing Your North Star Metric
Shared by NFT-gal · 167d ago · 18 comments

This is an incredible article from Lenny. Really clearly breaks down the metrics that successful companies / startups track. That graph is super visually concise and offers a ton of insight into how these larger companies measure themselves.

Cool to see big companies like Airbnb focus on one single thing which determines their success.

Whatever companies choose as their guiding metric, all energy and brainpower will flow in that direction. This can be hugely effective — it has worked wonders for companies like Airbnb, Netflix, and Uber, especially early on — but it can also be dangerous. By maintaining a laser focus on a single metric for too long, teams risk short-term thinking, missing new opportunities, and sacrificing the user experience.

Sal · 166d ago

Amazing that only 50% of companies are primarily focused on revenue.

manojranaweera · 163d ago

At present, we at won't focus on revenue for sometime to come. It is nice to have MRR though. Just to share my thinking:

1. Initial target - sign up 1000 volunteers before the end of first 12 months
2. After that, the priorities are still to work out - but among these are
- Monthly Active User
- No. of Opportunities listed
- Transactions type 1 (volunteer applies for an Opportunity)
- Transactions type 2 (Volunteer agreement signed)
- Transactions type 3 (value delivered for both parties)
- so on.

KaylaBens · 162d ago

What are you providing these volunteers once they sign up? Nothing over the course of that 12 months? IndieHackers was able to achieve solid growth in their marketplace of people right away because Courtland already had a big follower base for his content. Are you at least producing content for those who've signed up to consume and for you to remain relevant? If I signed up for something a year ago and haven't heard from them once... far less likely to use the thing. Good luck!

manojranaweera · 162d ago

Hi Kayla, We are not into content marketing. We provide them with Opportunities. We are constantly speaking to our companies to create Opportunities. I'm sure there is a ton of things we could do. But just trying to laser focus on the fundamentals, at this stage, i.e. volunteer acquisition. We will spend more time on "retention" once we reached 1000 volunteer signups.

KaylaBens · 162d ago

Roger that. Do keep us posted... this is a unique project.

manojranaweera · 162d ago

Will do. Thanks. I think there are many ways to build a startup. Many people also misunderstand the difference between building a product and a marketplace. We are all impatient for growth. But equally has to be realistic on how best to deploy our scarce resources. I built and sold a marketplace before, i.e. (now Alexa ranking 6,094). This does not guarantee I will get this right this time. But right now, all the indicators are positive.

NFT-gal · 166d ago

Agree. Liked this quote, which explains:

A goal around revenue can be uninspiring to the team. People often join companies to accomplish a specific mission; rarely is that mission simply growth in generating revenue. Metrics that are one step removed, such as number of paid customers, are more motivating because teams can assume that a paid customer is finding value in the product, so the company (and thus the employee) is delivering value.

manojranaweera · 166d ago

For us at what matters most above all else is getting to 1000 volunteers, ideally before end of first year, i.e. end of July 2021. We have reached 619 volunteer signups.

Trying to bring on-board a few social media volunteers to help us achieve this. Hopefully, we will shortly have few more mug shots

kendsouza · 163d ago

Do u realize this could be your major blind spot?
Adding unpaid volunteers signups in a linear way cannot truly be any kind of metric.
The moment they get paid gigs they are gone. Many of them have probably signed up at several other sites and are looking for jobs. So the target is not realistic and unacheivable, if many of the earlier signups are no longer in the free volunteer pool as many could be as time goes on.
The more realistic metric could be volunteeers signing up daily..where u can say hey ' we have 50 or 100 volunteers signing up daily'.

Sal · 162d ago


manojranaweera · 163d ago

Thanks for your view. We will get to a point where we can boast about Daily Active Users (DAU). But you cannot get to that metric without sign-ups in the first place. It's part of natural progress. There are always multiple metrics any business needs to think about. But you gotta pick one, otherwise, it's just chaos. We have so many things that need to get to perfection. But more than anything, we need our inventory, i.e. volunteers.

We are now at 635 and the team has grown to 5 from 2. since when I reported progress last.

kendsouza · 161d ago

You are conflating many different terms and probably getting confused on the business model.
The unpaid volunteers can never be part of any 'inventory' nor you can ever 'retain' them or 'acquire' them unless you are talking of slave labor. They are just there for a immediate temporary need of gaining experience which will never have any permanence with the posting with your company.
So how many of the 635 you were able to hook up with other businesses outside of your own business.

manojranaweera · 161d ago

I'm not confused at all. All I am trying to prove to myself is that we can gain the interest of 1000 people. If you are not sure of our business model or the value proposition, just take a look at the image on our home page.

coryz · 166d ago

howd u arrive at that as the north star metric?

manojranaweera · 166d ago

Our focus until we get to 1000 volunteers is not revenue. We are building a 2-sided marketplace. You have to focus more on one side than the other, especially at the beginning, and the side we have chosen is Volunteers (inventory) and not the companies (customers).

We are fixing two problems:

1. Volunteers - anyone can gain experience and skills to improve their career
2. Tech Startups - you can now mix paid with non-paid from SkilledUp Life - first to survive and grow your early-stage tech startup, especially those who bootstrap.

2-sided marketplaces are not the same as straightforward products.

coryz · 162d ago

interesting, what was uber's approach? all at once or one side at a time?

manojranaweera · 162d ago

I genuinely don't know. I'm not trying to build "Uber for Volunteers". Just doing my own thing.

sole-fields · 167d ago

Great share, thanks!