Hockey Stick Growth is a myth.
There’s no magical point at which a startup takes off. True growth is built brick-by-brick.
Let’s see what real exponential growth is made of.
The “Holy Hockey Stick”
In the Hockey Stick Growth model, startups see little traction in their early days before hitting a mystical “inflection point” and trending upwards into exponential growth.
That mystical point is defined as the point when you achieve Product-Market Fit (PMF).
But that’s not how growth works.
Product-Market Fit is a Process
In the real world, PMF isn’t a point in time. It’s a process.
A process that most founders underestimate.
Even amongst *funded* startups, the #1 reason for failure is “No Market Need ”. These are companies that had 12–18 months to find PMF.
And they never found it.
A founder’s overconfidence in their ability to reach PMF will doom them.
It leads to over-investment (both in time and money) in their initial version of the product.
It creates an obsession with each successive release, as the founder is sure *this one* will be the one to achieve PMF.
So what can you do about it?
The True Hockey Stick
Since Product-Market Fit isn’t binary, what does the true Hockey Stick look like?
In the hockey-stick model, the period after the inflection point is characterized by “surging” growth.
That’s a fancy way to say growth is “accelerating”.
So how do we increase our growth rate over time?
The real Hockey Stick isn’t defined by an inflection point but rather by an inflection process.
With each change we make to our product or its messaging, we increase our growth rate just a little. These improvements stack on top of each other one by one, building the famous hockey stick shape.
Creating real exponential growth isn’t about finding the mythical Product-Market fit. It’s not about reaching some magical inflection point.
Real exponential growth is achieved by stacking incremental improvements over time.