Building For Anyone, Not Everyone: How To Future-Proof Your Company

Customers are seeking modulated, integrated, and customizable solutions. Learn how three companies have become more than just a product.

One of the most common questions I get is “What’s your favorite startup?” For better or worse in this industry, we tend to collectively anoint heroes or unicorns or cockroaches (or whatever we want to call them this week) and give them too much credit, overvaluing what worked for them as a gold standard in how to run a company. I love Buffer’s transparency initiatives, but I also recognize that if every company tried 100% transparency, we might be plunged into a Purge-like anarchy overnight.

The question about favorites really means, “Where can I look for guidance on how to build a startup that will make it?” I thought I would take a minute to go there and give some examples of the types of startups I think are designed to make money (shocking expectation, I know) and last for a long time, which is how I personally measure startup success.

I’m going to walk through three examples; two I know extremely well, Transpose and Zapier, and a third that everyone has likely heard of — Slack.

My huge assumption is that if more startups thought on the level that these three do, they would be more successful and more prepared to weather inevitable storms that come their way.

There are a few key places these companies share common philosophies and approaches that I can only conclude has led to a large part of their success.

Making Yourself Feature and Future Proof

These three companies have managed to build a core product that people will pay for, prepare themselves for almost any change in the market, serve trends without chasing them, and even drive growth by making it easy to make them a part of your existing workflow. These traits make them great examples of startups that I’ll just call ‘future-proof.’ In short, instead of building a solution meant to serve everyone, these companies have figured out how to build a solution for anyone.



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