How to set baseline for growth for an early stage startup?

We’ve been operating in a closed beta for the past few months and are getting ready for a formal product launch. I’m trying to set expectations for the team in terms of what a successful launch looks like. The goal for the launch is top of funnel growth and our strategy is geared to provide the same.
I know that post-launch our goal is to grow at a steady % rate with good retention. However, I’m unsure of what baseline to use to base this growth off of. Any advice people have in terms of determining what expectations to set with the team would be appreciated


Baselines aren’t great proxies IMO, can be biased by who’s releasing them/industry/different contexts and intents. If you have a baseline, the launch will be “good” or “bad” in comparison, but the true north start is if it is improving over time and what levers you have to pull that.

The most important factor post launch is stable retention - you need it to flatten above 0 for a period of time. There are rough proxies if you search by industry, but >10% long term retention is probably needed for any successful product.

Beyond that, you should understand your reach of the launch and the conversion funnels that people went through.

By looking at all those, you can figure out where to focus energy post launch - do you need to figure out PMF better? Or just need to find the right distribution channels?


Strong conversion off your acquisition channels is key too — it’s critical that people actually convert to trying when they first learn about your product. Baselines’ll vary widely depending on channel/audience but you’re looking for a signal that there’s sufficient interest for you to start scaling. Might take some message testing to get the fire lit.

In this PPC environment I’d put a lot of early emphasis on driving referrals as well, if possible.


Ryan hit on some Qs I have because this “launch” really is a marketing launch and for it to have its desired impact you need to time it right.
To understand that timing:
a. do you believe you are at PMF? If no, get there first
b. Have you understood your must-have experience? If not, figure that out first
c. Do you understand how get the max people possible through this experience? If not, understand this first as well.
Figuring out b&c will help you understand a baseline for retention.
d. Do you have a signal as to a high potential channel(s)? If not, run more tests.
Now you’re ready for your marketing launch.

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I wouldn’t use benchmarks, but instead set your baselines.I would focus on setting baselines for three things:

  1. Collect baselines on each channel and CACs and then analyze.
  2. Baseline your conversion funnel.
  3. Baseline churn and LTV.

If your LTV is higher than your CAC, great! Your channel conversion could be better, but at least it’s not losing you money. Likewise, you can optimize your conversion funnel, but at least stuff is positive. Now you have baselines to start to test against.

If you find that your LTV is lower than your CAC, then you need to figure out if the channels aren’t performing or if you conversion funnel isn’t working or both. You should also look at churn, maybe there are PMF or unit economic issues. If you only achieve overcoming CAC after multiple transactions, then you may have an issue with PMF to overcome, or maybe your assumptions are wrong, and you have a low frequency product.

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