The Showdown: Iterative Growth vs. Rocket Ship Growth

Entrepreneurs, business owners, and investors are fueled by rocket ship growth because it validates what they've been working on and gives return on their money as quickly as possible. 

However, is “rocket ship” growth right for every business at every level?

Probably not. You don’t want a rocket ship to take off so fast that it explodes. So what's the alternative? How does the alternative possibly prepare you for rocket ship growth later?

At Talu, we are almost one year into our January 2015 beta launch. While we would love to be a rocket ship, we have chosen what we call “iterative growth” first. 

Iterative growth is about doing, testing, and learning in order to avoid things like:

  • Scale issues - If we attracted too many people too quickly into our Beta, or even our paid version of our application, we could have run into processing and system issues. We would have theoretically hit a breaking point. Instead, we learned what type of infrastructure we'll need for long term sustainable growth and evolved accordingly.
  • Support issues - Too many customers at once would have overwhelmed our small support team. It took us several iterations to get a system worked out so our customers have a good experience. If we hadn't done this we would have had to prioritize customers (paid vs. free vs. beta) and this would not be an optimal experience for anyone and doesn’t help towards long term success.
  • Leaky bucket syndrome - We read about the leaky bucket syndrome in the book, Traction - How any Startup can achieve explosive growth. It basically means that as you are building out your initial product and obtaining customers, some are going to leak out of your bucket because you have not yet learned enough about what your customers need and what's important to them. The survey we gave our customers gave us clear indication of what to work on. Customers will stick around if you fix those leaky holes.
  • Magic marketing button - Let’s say we created an awesome marketing campaign everyone loved and that floods our website with tons of new customers clamoring for our service. Our initial response what have been “AWESOME!” then “OH SHIT..." as all the items we talked about above would mean that the great campaign we just executed would have been for not as all the exposure might have attracted a lot of initial users, but not ones that would convert to long term customers.

Using this iterative approach has caused us some consternation. Shouldn’t things be done faster? Perfect the first time? You are told take money! Get investors! Spend! Learn! Acquire customers! Grow…grow…grow…..


From the beginning, we decided to bootstrap and fund this part of our startup journey ourselves, so this has put a natural check on the “rocket ship syndrome.” Iterative growth is our only move.

However, when we are finally ready or decide to take funding, we will be in much better position to launch the right way and scale better, faster, and stronger. Allowing us to use investment dollars to grow instead of figure out the market.

We’re sharing our story, but we’d love to hear yours. Leave a comment below or drop us a line via email