with Josh Elman

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Understanding Users

Understanding different styles of users and their needs.

Josh Elman

Product Guy, Greylock Partner, Growth Expert

Lessons Learned

We have an innate human need to communicate.

How can you get people to express something they weren’t expressing before?


Lesson: Growth with Josh Elman

Step: #10 Understanding Users: Understanding different styles of users and their needs

As people we're native communicators. We've been trying to communicate and building language and building ways to express things to each other since the dawn of humanity. This ability to be able take a simple message and get it to somebody else has always been at the core of that, even if it was just hammering it on a rock, or painting something on a cave, or starting to write the first words. So as we've evolved our communications we now have these computers, and these devices that make it able to do this faster, and simpler, and more ephemeral, or more privately or more publicly than ever before. And we've really enhanced this notion of what we can share, what we can express, what we can communicate.

I think the most important thing for any product that's trying to be a part of this flow is having something unique, that lets people express something they couldn't express before. With Facebook you created a network of people that were trusted to you, where you shared things that you wouldn't otherwise put on the public internet before but you like putting on a little bit more widely than just in direct one-to-one communications. Or you would always be like, "Oh, man if I just email ten people that I got this new job, I'll miss somebody, so I can post it on Facebook and everybody I know and care about would find out." So I think that this is the key thing with communication and when you're re-inventing that, it's always about how can you get people to express something they weren't expressing before.

What I think I get most excited about getting to work on, are a lot of the similar things I've gotten to work on in the past. These core foundational meaningful behaviors that are these really simple things that people do everyday, that if we can get them to do in a slightly new way, slightly more connected with the people and the things around them, that we can imagine 5 to 10 years from now hundreds of millions of people doing that. That's what really drives me. It's companies like Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter who have actually gotten there. It's amazing.

Or companies like Nextdoor that's like Facebook for your neighborhood that lets you build a neighborhood group. You can share things that are happening and have a channel to talk to your neighbors that for most of us seems really, really hard today. We can imagine everyone doing that in the future; that's what kind of gets me excited.

So both is a product person who likes to work on these kinds of products, now as an investor whose looking for those opportunities to realty dive in and invest, that's what I'm looking for. That's what I think in our entire industry, that's what we get to do and that's the kind of change that can happen in the world. Sometimes you're making a consumer product to do that and sometimes you're making the SaaS or other tools that help and enable people that actually go and make those kinds of products and we're all part of that process.

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