Learn the key ideas of the book by Cliff Lerner

Explosive Growth

How to manage the exponential growth of a startup

Explosive growth summarises the lessons which the author learned during the years that lead to the exponential growth of his startup; increasing its value tenfold, from one day to the next. According to Cliff Lerner, the three magic ingredients that enabled his success were: testing every idea and gathering real time data, constantly improving the product and using viral marketing techniques. The rise of Snap Interactive was full of challenges, slip ups, problems to be solved, and important decisions to be made, all the while, keeping the focus on continuous innovation.

Explosive Growth
Read in 16 min.
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Many useful tips to:

  • Realise exactly how much work and planning goes into the success of a startup.
  • Understand the importance of selling the benefits of a product, and not its functions.
  • Learn to plan for the worst case scenario, to be ready for a crisis and possible hard times.

The author of the book:

Cliff Lerner is a manager who left a promising career as a Wall Street analyst to launch an online dating startup, Snap Interactive. His company (which created one of the first apps for Facebook), experienced exponential growth (of more than 4000%), in just 5 years, exceeding 100 million users. Cliff Lerner lives in New York, and is always on the lookout for new entrepreneurial adventures.


Making an existing service ten times better

From 2000 to 2005, Cliff Lerner worked as an analyst for Lehman Brothers, one of the most prominent investment banks in the United States. At just 27 years old, he was promoted to a role that launched his career within the company. In spite of this opportunity, driven by a desire to keep complete control over his life, he decided to forgo a promising corporate career and to follow his dream: to become an entrepreneur and to be able to travel.

For his new venture, the young Cliff chose the online dating sector, and his chosen niche was professionals who wanted to find interesting people to go out with, and possibly their soulmate. The new site was to enable users to set a date to go out for coffee or a drink, without having to trawl through the usual ream of emails that other dating sites used, which greatly limited the user experience. Getting a date was a long and drawn out process, and the idea was to simplify, and speed up this process, offering the same service as other sites, but with significant improvements. For the user, the end result was the same, but the process was ten times easier.

Snap Interactive was created from this premise in 2005.


The key ideas of "Explosive Growth"

Making an existing service ten times better
Launch phase: don’t underestimate start-up capital and prepare for the worst
Choosing the road less travelled to be faster than the competition
Remember that the more a product is used, the more it is worth
Every product needs to be a purple cow: to stand out from the others
Deciding to bet everything on a new type of platform with the potential to revolutionise the web
Tests and data analysis are essential to get to know your users better
A startup needs to grow quickly to stay strong in the market
You cannot charge for a service that has always been free, it is better to add a new function that you can charge for
Do something that no one else is doing, do it well, and at the right time
Only hire people that you would have a drink with: the importance of staff selection in company culture
Read a lot to be good at problem solving and always remember to ask the experts
Create a vision and a mission: engage and motivate all co-workers
Use big data combined with storytelling
Changing the perception that users have of a product could help to increase your success
Having a team dedicated to developing innovative products
Recognising when it is time to change for the good of the company
Take-home message

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