Books for software engineers and managers



A Startup Guide to Getting  Customers

by Gabriel Weinberg (founder of Duck Duck Go) and Justin Mares

Product Manager,
Tech Recruiter,
Startup Founder

How strongly do I recommend Traction?
6 / 10

Review of Traction

Traction is a quick read. The book is filled with examples from startups gaining traction through 19 different channels. You’ll walk away with enough ideas to inspire you and just enough knowledge to research further about specific channels.

Always have traction  goals

Product companies like to lead with product. We look at the product roadmap and smile. Look at all the stuff we’re going to build.

Just like a product roadmap, you need a traction roadmap with actual goals, both running in parallel. The authors recommend a 50/50 effort split between building product and gaining traction.

19 channels for  traction

The authors identify 19 different channels for driving traction. The list looks like:

  1. Viral Marketing
  2. Public Relations
  3. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  4. Offline Ads
  5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  6. Engineering as Marketing
  7. Etc.

The authors dedicate one chapter to each channel. The ideas offered are just enough to structure your thinking and research further.

In trying to drive traction for Brian’s Notes, I copied this list to a spreadsheet and listed possible tactics to apply within each channel. Traction’s categorical framework facilitated divergent thinking and provided me with new areas to explore.

Apply Lean methodology to  traction

The authors provide interview quotes from many startup founders and there’s one clear, resounding message: you don’t know which traction channel is going to work so you need to experiment.

The authors advocate for executing cheap and fast experiments to identify which traction channels show promise, then pouring gasoline on those fires.

Their recommendation sounds a lot like the Build-Measure-Learn methodology in The Lean Startup, applying the product development principles to traction.

As a hiring manager, it’s easy to see the direct application to tech recruiting. Your traction goals are centered around software engineering job applicants and your job is to run experiments to identify which channels drive traction.