What’s more important: product or sales? » Version One Ventures

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StartUP Product‘s insight:

Startups are constantly asking themselves: should we focus on the quality of our product or the strength of the sales and distribution strategy?

Award-winning Vancouver-based angel investor Boris Wertz says,

To be successful, a stand-alone company needs a top-notch product and a clever distribution/sales strategy.

  • Startups are generally more successful when the founders are product-driven; much easier to add sales expertise to a product-driven organization than it is to add product focus to a sales-driven start-up
  • a great product requires great leadership with the right product instincts;
  • Sales-driven companies are often focused on maximizing short-term return on investment and this mindset can shape product decisions; sales-driven companies can evolve into service companies as they are starting to build every feature that clients are asking for instead of following a long-term product vision
  • Products, no matter how great, usually don’t make money on their own; product-driven companies need to focus on distribution in order to succeed in the long-term

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Josh Elman: ‘Hire a growth hacker, not a marketer’ (Wired UK)

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In today’s Silicon Valley, spending money to acquire users or customers is usually seen as a last resort instead of a go-to option

StartUP Product‘s insight:

By Josh Elman


To grow fastest and biggest, top companies today instead focus on building feature after feature that helps attract new users or more quickly convert them into active users.

  • Many companies have started to realise that they can’t just build a great product and expect growth to happen, nor can they afford to pay for it, but that they have to engineer it.


In contrast to a traditional marketing team with managers, analysts and agency relationships, these growth teams include engineers, designers, product managers and data scientists.

  • To keep producing these results, it takes a deep technical understanding of how those systems work and how to measure the effectiveness of the platform.

In the earliest days of a company or a product, finding the path towards sustainable growth is crucial.

  • Marketing teams will include engineers and designers, and talk as much about “road maps” and features as about ads and budget.

Josh Elman is an investor at Greylock Partners. He held early product roles at LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter @joshelman

  • Josh is speaking at Startup Product Summit SF2 register before June 24 for $400 off!

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