Traction: the 50/50 rule for startups

Startup Traction: the 50/50 rule.

This week we are working so hard on the programs, tools, people and 2017 strategy for Orion Startups and the Business Incubator at Orion Technological Park. The goal is the same: successful companies.

We see an important gap between customer / problem / solution fit and product / market fit.

Most of the teams are still stuck at the early validation, creating products based on initial hypotheses and learnings, and are struggling with the product market fit and the traction channels.

They have really good discovery process and are building products / services based on it. It is important to have a product that your early customers love, but having no idea how to get more traction is a major problem.


“Traction is basically quantitative evidence of customer demand” – Naval Ravikant, founder of Angel List

We suggest the companies to follow the 50 – 50 rule:
50% of the time on the product development and
50% of the time on the traction.

Spend your time working on both things on parallel.

This is not easy for founders, most of them don´t feel comfortable about experiment and test channels before launch or product be ready. They feel like if they were loosing customers.

Why build something people want is not enough?

It is important, it is the base, and it is a must, but is not enough because you can find bad surprises later on the process:

  • People don’t want to pay.
  • The market is too small.
  • Reach the market is too hard or cost prohibitive.
  • Too hard to get those customers because hyper competitive market.

Traction perspective of the process

Phase I – making something people want: Getting those first customers that prove your product can get traction.

Phase II – marketing something people want: Getting enough customers that you´re knocking on the door of sustainability.

Phase III – scaling your business: Increasing your earnings, scaling your marketing channels, and creating a truly sustainable business.


Split your time, resources and people to 50-50 rule testing the best channels that fit on your product and market:

  1. Targeting Blogs
  2. Publicity
  3. Unconventional PR
  4. Search Engine Marketing
  5. Social and Display Ads
  6. Offline Ads
  7. Search Engine Optimization
  8. Content Marketing
  9. Email Marketing
  10. Engineering as Marketing
  11. Viral Marketing
  12. Business Development
  13. Sales
  14. Affiliate Programs
  15. Existing Platforms
  16. Trade Shows
  17. Offline Events
  18. Speaking Engagements
  19. Community Building

“Many entrepreneurs who build great products simply don´t have a good distribution strategy. Even worse is when they insist that they don´t need one…” – Marc Adreeseen.


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