🔥 Find the heat

Whether you're a writer or an early stage founder, your job is to "find the heat" - the only bits that readers and users care about - and double down on them.

There's an expression in writing where you want to "find the heat". The parts and passages that convey the strongest ideas or bring the story to life.

As a reader, you know what I’m talking about. They’re the sentences that swept you away, that get your heart pounding faster, that get your mind fully invested into the piece.

The heat is the good bits.

For a writer, it's really hard to make the whole thing "the heat" (though the very best writers have honed this skill or work with talented editors to get them there). It’s a process of writing, refining and sometimes scrapping to piece it all together again from scratch.

But I didn’t come her to tell you about writing. I came to tell you about building a startup.

Early stage founders building new things have the same exact challenge. Their job is to find "the heat" in what they're building.

But it's really to know where it might be by just observing users, in the same way it's really hard to know which writing passages have it, unless you ask the reader to circle them and tell you why.

You need to sit down with users and have them point out exactly what (and why) something is "the heat" for them. What makes them ignore the jankiness of the rest and keeps them coming back for more.

The whole period before you get to product market fit is this journey. I'd say most only ever get to PMF because they did this relentlessly.

Starting off, you probably don't have very much heat. Your hypotheses and your ideas cover a vast terrain and you can’t really know what's going to resonate. But slowly you start to get a sense. You start to feel the emotion and the hook.

You tighten up the surface area - for writers, it's focusing more sharply on the key points. For founders it's narrowing to the 3 things to get to “Great” and not worrying about the rest.

Until you've got something that is nothing but heat. No extra friction.

Seamless so that the letters and words on the page disappear, seamless so that the pixels of the UI melt away. Until all you're left with is the good stuff.

This is the work of every writer, of every early stage founder.

Find the heat.