KPIs for Brand New Startups

Some reflection on watching Y Combinator's CEO Michael Seibel's Startup School session

I was watching Michael Seibel’s (CEO of Y Combinator), Startup School presentation on building product,  while cooking yesterday, and really came away one with key reflection.


He was not budging at all when he said, “for 99% of new startups, the only KPI you should be measuring is revenue. Unless you plan to never charge your users.” 


The last sentence was geared primarily to ad-supported revenue generation - social media, search engines, etc...


What struck me if that you could tell people in Y Combinator’s audience were struggling with the over generalization.  In the Q&A , you could feel that some of them were attempting to create “gotcha” moments or circumstances where this rule of thumb wouldn’t pertain to them. He stuck to his guns.


At KnowCap, the we’re concerned with traction, lead flow, conversation rates, etc... But at the end of the day, our scoreboard is revenue. Nothing else really matters. Not email marketing open rate. Not even subscribers for this newsletter (although that generates revenues). Nothing matters. 


In the future, when we’re out of low-burn, high-sweat phase of life, we can think about other things. But for now, we’re stuck getting revenue numbers via sales reporting software delivered to us every single week. 


Talk about motivating. When we signed three clients in one week, it felt great. When we have two weeks of crickets, it hurts, a lot. 


What metrics are you measuring as your “scoreboard”?