From Facebook to Uber: How Focus Brought Success

Why do startups need to focus? And does focus limit growth. Case studies that cover this topic in detail.
Written By: Subir


Today. I wanted to talk about the power of focus for young startups. On your target customer segment.

One of the biggest mistakes I see them make is throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks.

Contrary to popular belief, throwing stuff at the wall works if you’re trying to get your product fit initially.
When you have NO idea who’s your target customer or when you’re trying to prioritize which customer segment to focus on.

But it’s not going to help you achieve growth.

Once you have an initial customer segment – it’s really important to focus on ONE Customer segment. I’ll give you THREE reasons why.

Limiting Belief

But first I wanted to start with the biggest barrier to focus. The fear that it’s going to kill / limit your growth.

Exhibit A – Examples of big brands that started with a single customer segment to focus on.

Facebook only focused on college students, undergrad college students – it’s goal create a digital social network for people who were already social in real-life.

Uber didn’t launch with multiple segments or car types. They started with Uber black. And they focused on affluent gen X who could afford to pay the nosebleed prices on Saturday night – to arrive on-time and in style.

Venmo focused on outgoing millennials who wanted a simple, easy way to pay each other when they went out.

Trello focused on tiny startups where people wore multiple-hats.

Trello was created so ANYONE could answer:
  • Who’s working on what
  • What’s next and who’s on it

Wistia started out as a platform to compete with Youtube and Vimeo. But it only took off when it focused on bloggers and small business owners who were looking to see what content was working and what was not.

That allowed them to focus on helping people create great quality content quickly and cheaply.

I could go on
Tiktok, NotionApp, Robinhood, SOFI, eero

Focusing on a single customer segment early is NOT a barrier to growth.

Trello is now used by people to plan their weddings, vacations, even recipes.
Tiktok is adding customer segments daily. It’s now competing with almighty Google for Search!!

But WHY focus on one segment?

There are three reasons I’ve unearthed from my hundreds of research and user testing sessions over the years.

1. Focus delivers CLARITY

Focus creates clarity of purpose. Of the feature set that you should launch with and focus on. And even the people you hire.

Here’s a quote from Trello’s founder
Trello had to be super simple and friction-free so that everyone would use it. But it had to be powerful too.

Today almost every project management tool has a kanban view that Trello is built on.

2. Focus removes INDECISION (Analysis-paralysis)

Think about Uber – if they were trying to launch with Uber Black, Uber-X, Uber Share all at once. Their positioning would be weak-sauce.

By focusing just on the affluent gen X and just an Uber black ticket, they created a clear positioning and differentiation from unreliable, deilapidated taxis.

AND overcame the fear of jumping in a car that was driven by a random person.

3. Focus delivers PERSUASION

When you focus on a customer segment you create empathy – you understand SPECIFICALLY how your solution aligns with their needs and pain points.

This gets reflected in your copy, in your imagery, in the content you create. So you become more persuasive. Your conversions skyrocket. Your growth becomes predictable. Just ask Wistia.
Wistia webinars –

It truly doesn’t matter which industry you’re in. Take personal loans. SOFI focused on young professionals crippled with credit card debt and super-charged it’s growth.

So throw stuff at the wall all you like to find your initial customer segments. But once you do, focus, focus, focus on one to get to the next level.

I exclusively focus on Persuasive User experiences that create growth. So please subscribe.

I help teams attract and retain customers

by sharing blueprints of successful and sucky digital experiences
Picture of Hi. I'm a San Francisco based UX Pro.

Hi. I'm a San Francisco based UX Pro.

I founded UX for All to help you avoid the heartache that comes with creating product and marketing experiences. By simplifying both process and UIs.

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