How Startups Get Customers | Justin Mares Interview

Traction is what every entrepreneur wants these days. Whether it’s your revenue, acquisition funnel, or engagement numbers, every venture investor demands strong growth rates before writing a check. It’s no longer enough to just build a widget and let the world come to you. The most successful new companies are approaching traction with the same seriousness as product development.

Justin Mares is the co-author of Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers (his co-author, Gabriel Weinberg is the founder/CEO of DuckDuckGo). Justin is the former Director of Revenue at Exceptional, a software company that Rackspace acquired for 8 figures in 2013. He has previously founded two startups (one acquired, one bust) and runs a growth meetup in San Francisco. You can find his writing on marketing and personal-development on his blog,

Justin and Gabe interviewed Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia), Alexis Ohanian (reddit), Eric Ries (The Lean Startup), Noah Kagan (AppSumo), Andrew Chen, and 40+ other top tech entrepreneurs to inform the lessons they share in the book.

In the interview, Justin and I tackle some of these questions:

  • How can entrepreneurs get new customers for their startups? How can they execute a differentiated growth strategy and find traction?
  • Why is traction so important? 
  • What is the biggest traction mistake startups make? How should they think differently? What’s the biggest traction mistake Justin has ever made?
  • What was the most counter-intuitive thing they discovered in their interviews with the top 1% of tech founders?
  • What was their creative process for the book? Any interesting similarities/differences with product development?
  • If Jimmy Wales and Alexis Ohanian had a traction battle, how would the fight go down and who would win? 
  • What have you learned from being an entrepreneur that has informed your work as an author, and vice versa?
  • If authors are entrepreneurs and books are products, what should writers experiment with to generate traction for new books? What are Justin and Gabe doing to launch Traction? What have the results been so far? How can authors get new readers by using traction tactics?
During the interview we mention the following three podcasts:
  • StartUp: Alex Blumberg was a producer for This American Life on NPR before starting his own podcasting company and recording the entire process of founding a new business.
  • It’s Not The Product, It’s The Person: this episode of This American Life is about starting a startup, Alex is featured.
  • Serial: this is a fantastic new podcast where the host, Sarah Koenig, investigates a real life murder mystery. The plot thickens with every episode.

 Check them out and let me know what you think.

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