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📈 Lenny Rachitsky's Advice to Scale Your B2B Startup Idea

And why you should steal his playbook

Hey, this is Napkin Notes: we’re the Netflix of startup content, but we don’t need to charge $15/month. 🍿

Today’s deep dive is all about growth hacks from Lenny Rachitsky.

We’ve had enough video calls with you to learn that scaling your idea is more on your mind than starting one. So we’re gonna speak to that.

If you’re wondering why this advice is worth paying attention to, know that Lenny worked with the cream of the crop to put together these frameworks. He interviewed folks like:

But before we dig into their trade secrets, let’s hear the news.

📰 Latest News:

📰 In Tech News: Your bitcoin friend’s back to bragging in the group chat. Klarna claims its AI assistant does the work of 700 people after it laid off 700 people. Deel’s acquiring AI startup, Zavvy. Bumble’s slashing 30% of its staff. Microsoft dropped its AI access principles at MWC. McKinsey is in hot water over their China relationship. Apple killed its electric car project. Alibaba made a huge investment in OpenAI’s Chinese rival, Moonshot AI.

The first half will be AMA-style. The second half will be a pitch-off. What else could be better?

Now let’s get to some startup ideas 🥁

Wait, what? Don’t you start with a long deep dive first, then hit the startup ideas? Great question reader.

Well, Yesterday was leap day - where once every 4 years the world adds a day to February. Today is “fun Friday” where once per year Napkin Notes likes to mix up our style.

So jump on in, the water’s warm 👇

🍾 Startup Ideas of the Week

Upvote, comment or re-share the ideas that catch your eye.

Got your own startup idea you wanna validate? Tap below.

Wanna nerd out on scaling your B2B startup idea?

Today’s your lucky day.

📈 How to Scale B2B Startup Ideas

A little while ago, Lenny wrote this banger of a newsletter on B2B growth engines. And since a whole lot of you are building your own B2B startups, we thought we’d pull out a couple gems from it. 💎

In the newsletter, Lenny digs into 4 key questions:

  • What’s a good timeline to get to $1 million ARR?

  • What are the most common growth channels for B2B startups?

  • When should you start charging for your product?

  • What should you charge?

Since you don’t have 20 mins to read it, we summed up the top gems we think you should know:

💎 1) Organic Inbound is Key: Word-of-mouth referrals indicate strong product-market fit, making organic inbound channels crucial for B2B startups like Loom, Figma, and Looker.

💡 Takeaway: invest in this early and as soon as possible

💎 2) Diverse Growth Strategies: While organic inbound methods prevail, successful startups like Gong and Zip also emphasize outbound sales strategies, alongside content creation, SEO, and paid advertising campaigns.

💡 Takeaway: build a sales team that leverages content creation and work side by side with your marketing team.

💎 3) Partnerships Require Time: Although partnerships can be impactful, they demand significant time investments to yield results, as seen with Census and Hex.

💡 Takeaway: give partnerships the time it takes. It’s a slow burn 90% of the time.

💎 4) Caution with Product-Led Growth: Be cautious against forcing product-led growth (PLG), as seen with Databricks' experience, stressing the importance of a balanced approach to growth strategies.

💡 Takeaway: chat with a PLG professional before you follow a die-hard PLG playbook. Maybe your product isn’t built for it.

💎 5) Time to $1M ARR: On average, it takes top B2B startups around 2 years from founding to hit $1M ARR, with exceptions like Ramp, Linear, Census, and Zip achieving this more quickly. However, the timeline remains consistent regardless of ACV, and delaying monetization can be strategic, as demonstrated by Loom's intentional focus on becoming a ubiquitous tool within organizations.

💡 Takeaway: be patient, iterate daily and reference benchmarks. But have 2 years as the goal.

Liked this deep dive? You may like Lenny’s playbooks on fundraising:

👋 Wanna Meet Wes Kao?

So did the LOI team. So their startup accelerator/venture fund group spun up an AMA on Kernal to dig into her advice for young entrepreneurs. Wes has:

  • co-founded Maven, reaching over 100,000 students worldwide, which she helped raise $20M from a16z from

  • shared stages with industry icons like Simon Sinek and Richard Branson, and cofounded ALTmba with Seth Godin (the legend himself)

  • advised startups and Fortune 500 companies on brand, marketing and operations

Need we say more? Click below to save your seat.

🖼 Swipes of the Week

💚 The Kernal Fam

P.S. Word of mouth is # our number 1 growth lever. Tap below to tell the internet gods you like this newsletter.

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