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Advice at Scale 3


Advice at Scale #3 comes from our speaker Peter Reinhardt, Co-founder and CEO of Segment.

  • Founded in 2011 in the dorm rooms of MIT, Segment is a customer data infrastructure company.
  • They have raised over $260 million from investors including GV, Accel and Meritech Capital.
  • Segment has also been named one of Forbes’ next billion-dollar startups.
  • Peter has been listed on Forbes 30 Under 30.
1) So Peter, what are some of the key learnings you’ve had during your journey? Is there something you would have done differently?

Segment’s road to product/market fit was anything but smooth, and that’s something I’ll speak more about in Helsinki.

We made tons of mistakes in those early years. The biggest lesson? The world doesn’t care what your vision is, it doesn’t care how you think the world could operate better. People have problems they’re trying to solve, and unless you solve one of those problems, your vision is irrelevant.


2) What concrete advice would you give to a fresh startup founder?

Be bold, and don’t wait too long to make a decision. Founders take way too long to scrap ideas that just aren’t working. The greatest advice William Faulkner gave to other authors was to “kill their darlings”. The same is true for startup founders, who need to know when to let go and start again, no matter how grand their vision for the future.

Keep listening to your customers. This should always be on your to do list – don’t let it fade into the background as soon as your sales start ticking up. The day you stop tuning into your customers’ pain points is the day you risk taking your company in the wrong direction.

Get analytics and customer data in place from the start. My co-founders and I can’t emphasize this enough. When you can measure customer engagement and collect customer feedback, you’re much more likely to see clearly whether you’ve found product/market fit. Without clear metrics and transparency in qualitative feedback with the whole team, you can masterfully avoid facing tough realities that things aren’t working. Better to see customer reality clearly and make real improvements.


3) Is there a book or a piece of content that has really shaped the way you think? How?

I loved The Economy of Cities by Jane Jacobs. By centering her focus on cities rather than nation states, Jacobs offers a compelling vision of how businesses are born, and how they are inextricably tied to the economies and geographies they spring from.