Startup founder KPI – Live or Die

When you manage a startup it’s CRITICAL to really know what is your real status,

In this post I’m going to show you the one and most important KPI that you should be focusing on – the startup founder KPI

Based on case studies from startup’s that became a huge success such as linkedin, facebook, twitter, airbnb and more

Where you should really focus your attention and resources?

This is especially important in the hardest phase of a start up life…

The Trough of Sorrow

It’s a time that you get very confused…

You’re searching for the light…Experimenting…Pivoting

But how can you know that what you’re doing is making things better or worse?

What is the startup founder KPI?

There are simply too many KPI’s

You hear SU’s guys say things like:

  • We got 200,000 sign up’s last month
  • Our app have over 350,000 installs
  • Got a 56% DAU/MAU ratio (Daily Active Users to Monthly Active Users)
  • Conversion rate is 18%
  • Our D7 retention is 34%, d30 retention is 17%
  • 176,000 PV’s in an average week
  • and so on…

It’s hard to get all those KPI’s

and the most confusing thing is that After any action you do some of them drop, some are rising

For the VP’s / Department managers / Team leaders – life is a bit more simple – they have their own set of dedicated KPI’s that tells them if their department is doing their job

But what about the CEO/Founder?

How can he know that the entire company is going in the right direction?

What can he do? when everyone is experimenting like crazy?

What KPI should the CEO/Founder use to know if the changes made by all the departments are good or bad?

If the company is headed in the right direction? or not?

Startup founder kpi

Learning from successful companies such as linkedin, facebook, twitter, airbnb and more

It turns out that the only thing that really matters – the startup founder KPI:


if people are using your product it means a lot…

  • They chose your solution to help them get something done ( so it’s better for them, than all the other available solutions)
  • They have switched from another solution ( and it’s very hard for people to switch)

but you may ask: How can I know if they are using my product? What does it mean?

The answer: It means 3 things:

  1. Usage – Define the core actions and track # of users who do that ( be open minded – you may find that people use your product in a completely different way than you have planned and for a totally different purpose)
  2. Frequency – are they using your solution in the frequencies you expected? track it!
  3. Retention – are they coming back

Let’s go deeper on each of them…

Some examples from companies you may know…

linkedin startup founder kpi

Linkedin was launched in 2003…

the start was slow…they had about 20 sign up’s a day

Only in 2006 they became profitable

and they needed a north star to guide them…

  • Usage – was based on linkedin’s 2 value propositions – Find people & Be found
  • Frequency 1 (Find people) – they tracked the # of people who logged in & searched per day
  • Frequency 2 (to be found) – they understood that it will take them a while to be big enough so in the beginning they only tracked the willingness of people to be found by measuring the response rate to inMail

They based their entire product & growth strategy around those kpi’s

This is why they started requiring from people to know where they work, What’s their title and so on…and than start connecting them to their colleagues

yelp startup founder kpi

Yelp – launched in 2005

  • Usage – Find local business / Review them
  • Frequency 1 ( find local business) – tracked the #of users who searched each day ( aimed that on average people will search 2-3 times a week)
  • Frequency 2 ( Review them) – tracked the #of reviews /day ( aimed that on average people will review at least once a week)


  • It should be clear that those metrics only showed the results – they show if they headed in the right direction
  • they (of course) had a whole lot of activities and KPI’s to understand WHAT is causing people to do this, WHY people do it and WHO are the people  ( more accurately what is the context of the people who do it)

facebook startup founder kpi

Facebook…(a screenshot of a profile from 2005)

  • Usage – Stay connected with friends
  • Frequency  – tracking # of users who log in and view the news feed ( aimed : 2-3 times a day)


  1. they didn’t care about page views or unique visitors!
  2. Since they are in the advertising business for them it was a WIN-WIN kpi that also predicted income

What’s next?

To get started, figure out what are your solution’s core usage actions,

and start measuring them !

In my next article – I will dive deep to explain about a hidden asset that you have that is the secret for getting people to use your product

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