Startups Are Rooted In Existing Behavior

Jun 27, 2024

Every great startup is rooted in an existing human behavior pattern. It's the foundation for everything being built. If founders fail to realize this and don't focus their company, both product and distribution, on this anchoring behavior, they will likely fail to succeed in their endeavor.

At Jamie, we faced this struggle firsthand. After succeeding at building a great product rooted in an existing behavior, writing meeting notes, we started to think about ways to diversify to become more defensible because investors told us to do so. We discovered appealing problems and came up with good solutions, but they were too unrelated. At an early stage of a company, you cannot focus on more than one thing. Despite there being overlaps with our existing product, these new ideas weren't rooted in the same behavior. After realizing that every early-stage company (below $3 million ARR) must be rooted in one, and only one, existing behavior, it became clear. We slightly tweaked our other solutions to fit the existing behavior of meetings, allowing us to build the best product in the world to solve the friction points that come with that behavior.

There are countless examples suggesting that a startup can only be rooted in one behavior. Surely, you can build up and downstream from the existing behavior, but ultimately it all starts from there.

For Superhuman, the existing behavior is email. From there, they built the fastest email experience and integrated new features like AI-writing, better search, and smarter triaging. But all of these features are rooted in the existing behavior of email.

For Amazon, the existing behavior is shopping. They found a way to make this behavior 10x better through the power of the internet and diversified from there, yet largely remained rooted in the primary behavior.

Companies can branch out at later, more mature stages. But in the early days, you need to identify a primary existing behavior and build around that. Find all the friction points that exist there and make it 10x better.

Every great company is rooted in one, and only one, existing behavior pattern. Everything else is built from there.