A commonly held philosophy in the tech startup world is to launch quickly, iterate early and often, then scale at all costs. Companies like Uber, Facebook, Slack, and Snapchat all abide by this set of rules. Even Kernl, a company I co-founded last year with Joshua Chang and Danny Choi, has relied on this strategy to become a competitive market leader. Move forward and don’t stop. In other words, build momentum. Momentum isn’t a mysterious Jedi trick, but it is a force that is lurking behind every story of success.
On the heels of raising an additional round of seed funding for Kernl, I can’t help but to reflect on the events that have gotten our team to this point. We started working on Kernl in September of 2014 with a dream to revolutionize “giving” and make it a rewarding social experience for both the giver and the receiver. One year and several dozen iterations of that vision later, we have a beautiful iOS app and website to do just that. But the reality is that greater than 90% of our progress to date was realized within the last 3 months. The time before that was littered with over-designed, over-engineered, over-complicated, under-appreciated ideas and prototypes. So what changed?
In August, we decided to put on the blindfolds, pick up the proverbial scissors, and run as fast as we could toward a destination that we could barely see. We hired our first full-time engineer and picture-locked our vision to an attainable version 1.0 (I would call it an MVP but that would be lying). We started building relentlessly, even recklessly—designing for the gaps as we went—so that we could submit it to the app store within 90 days. I had one friend, a brilliant engineer and former co-worker, caution that we would need a miracle to pull it off in time. Though we were confident, we felt anything but stable. I also felt something that we lacked in the prior nine months: momentum. Today, suddenly the wind is at our backs. People see our vision and are excited, and we’ve hit our stride in development with a weekly build cadence. Now it’s our responsibility to fight to maintain that momentum. Every. Day.
. . . to gain momentum requires things to get heavier, faster, and harder to stop.
Momentum is a scary thing. It is the product of an object’s mass and velocity, which implies that to gain momentum requires things to get heavier, faster, and harder to stop. That’s also the beauty of this force. It creates an increase in the substance of what you’re doing and mandates that you commit, stretch your faith, and overcome every obstacle in your way regardless of how sure-footed you feel. The more momentum, the more unstoppable.
The opposite of momentum is paralysis. That’s the “stuck” feeling we all sometimes experience. The most successful people find ways to build momentum in every area of life: the marketplace, spiritually, personal goals, and relationships. That’s what life looks like when we combine our faith with our works.
Not surprisingly, P. Diddy said it well. “Can’t stop. Won’t stop. Uh-uh, Uh-uh.” 🔑