Cobi Druxerman is the cofounder and Chief Marketing Officer of Taplytics — a startup that provides an A/B testing platform for mobile applications. The company recently completed the three month YCombinator program in San Francisco and also closed a round of funding.
I attended Cobi’s talk at Bitmaker Labs in Toronto where he spoke about his experiences as a founder of several companies, his time at YCombinator, and his thoughts on starting a startup.
The Road to Taplytics
Cobi is a graduate of the Commerce program at Queen’s University and started his MBA at the Rotman School at the University of Toronto. He founded several companies before founding Taplytics. All of the companies were bootstrap ventures. Several were technology based and one was a restaurant.
He and his cofounders started Taplytics when they were running a mobile software startup called Syrp Inc. They noticed that A/B tests were difficult to set up and spotted their market opportunity.
Finding Your Startup Idea
Cobi noted that he and the team would meet frequently to come up with startup ideas – neither of which was worth pursuing. It wasn’t until they discovered a problem they had to solve themselves that they hit on something worth pursuing.
He encourages early stage companies to follow Paul Graham’s advice to put yourself at the forefront of a category, find a problem, and make sure that the topic interests you.
YCombinator – Growth is All that Matters
Cobi and the Taplytics team completed the YCombinator Program in San Francisco in April of this year. They gave up 7% of their company for the right to attend the program and $20,000 in funding.
The team applied four times to the program before they were accepted. They were interviewed by a group of four YCombinator partners (including Kevin Hale – cofounder of Wufoo, Aaron Harris – cofounder of Tutorspree, Paul Buchheit – the creator of Gmail, and Kirsty Nathoo) during what sounded to me like a cattle call.
Several hundred companies were at the event pitching their ideas and bona fides. Each team had 10 minutes to convince the partners that they had the grit to succeed and be the winner in a winner-takes-all market.
YCombinator looked for teams that had relationships with customers and demonstrated that they solicited and used customer feedback on a regular basis.
Cobi felt that the experience was worth it largely because of the network of people attending the program. He and his team had the opportunity to see other young companies, composed of very capable people, progress through the program. The weekly reviews – where the companies displayed their technical and market progress – caused them to work harder.
For pre-revenue companies, the emphasis at YCombinator is on growing subscriber lists 10% a week. Early stage companies with revenue should be growing the revenue base 10% a week.
Yes, 10% a week.
The objective of the program is to reduce the risk of failure by steadily growing the business at a rapid pace and securing a leading market position.
Growth is all that matters.
When the Taplytics team started at YCombinator they had a hundred or so subscribers. Now they have grown their subscriber base into a significant size.
The Startup Experience
A startup founder faces many challenges starting and growing a new venture. You experience fear on a daily basis.
Cobi feels that to stay in the game and succeed you need to be passionate about the idea and want to solve the problem.
The Non-Technical Cofounder
Taplytics has four cofounders. Cobi and another cofounder, Andrew Norris, are non-technical. The other two cofounders lead the technical development and write the code.
Cobi spoke to the audience about the challenges faced by nontechnical cofounders. The biggest challenge is convincing a technical lead to join the company with only equity and an idea as a lure. Unless you have a relationship with a technical lead, it is near impossible to convince them to join you on your journey.
Cobi encourages nontechnical cofounders to develop enough technical skills to prototype or create a mockup of the product.
The Future for Taplytics
Cobi believes that Taplytics is in a great category and has high hopes for the company. He realizes that there is still considerable risk ahead of the team but believes that the YCombinator experience helped them learn how to grow the company and mitigate risk.
The company is in the process of relocating from Toronto to the Bay Area. The team believes that they are best served by being close to the Bay Area network of advisors, competitors, and customers.
This article is part of my Digital Marketing guide.