How Startups Go From Cool New Thing To Must Have Product

If you want customers, focus on useful over flash

Joe Procopio
6 min readNov 12, 2020


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I just launched the most boring MVP of my career.

Admittedly, it was boring on purpose, but even I was shocked at how vanilla the results were. It’s OK though, because even though the MVP was dull as shit, it was also useful as hell. At this early stage, useful is all I care about.

I’ve been launching new products for over 20 years, mostly as an entrepreneur or part of a startup. I’ve had huge successes and crashing failures. I’ve launched brilliant and clever cool new things and dreadfully mundane solutions to nagging and expensive problems.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned: When it comes to long-term success, there might appear to be correlation between flashy and successful, but there’s no causation.

Ultimately, I can live with boring and useful, because I can get past that. Flashy and useless is just a pretty picture of an impending failure.

Why boring beats flashy every time

This isn’t a tortoise vs. hare argument. I’m not downplaying buzz or hype or any of those terms that describe the quick and intense engagement with a product. That kind of thing is necessary for success. Eventually.

I’m just saying too many startups put the flashy cart before the useful horse. And sometimes they don’t even realize it.

When I first set out to develop a product, I don’t want to sell the product that everyone loves. I want to sell the product that everyone buys. When I get involved with a startup, I don’t want to run the company everyone talks about. I want to run the company with a track record of successes in its wake.

Buzz is easy. Look at what trends on Twitter.

In all seriousness, there’s a certain amount of flash-chasing that has permeated startup over the last 15 years or so. Most people believe it accelerated with Facebook and Zuckerberg, but I think it actually snowballed with Apple and the cult of Jobs. They designed that damn iPhone so well that UX and UI became a huge thing. And deservedly so.



Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building & GROWERS. Write at and More at