Go small to go big

In a critique session for my non-fiction writing class in college, I got feedback that my writing was too broad. I was describing an experience with my friends on the beach but trying too hard to make it resonate with the reader with high level words and general language that I ended up achieving the opposite.

I modified the piece and here’s how it turned out:

We all find each other’s hands and continue our walk, taking a step, and then another, and another, each one coming quicker than the one before. The sand is damp and soft and invites our feet to its caress, allowing us to step faster and faster until we break off into a chorused run. The open track compels me to glide quicker across the even pathway that seems to have been paved just for us. I do not feel my legs. I do not feel inhibited. I am freely soaring over the delicate terrain, racing against the swift winds. Perhaps I am flying.
Upon arrival, we make our way to the beachfront of Papaya Playa. The area is illuminated by fake candles inside paper bags, lights streaming from the bar, Tiki torches on the shore and a bonfire’s dying glow. It is almost romantic save for the booming party music and garish conversations of drunken foreigners.
I am silently sinking into the shore, the sand seeping through the spaces between my toes, the earth engulfing my feet.

I got a 10/10 and this feedback:


Details. Counterintuitively, the specificity of the details made the writing, not only more entertaining, but more universal and relatable.

The same exists for early stage startups.

The canonical advice is to stay really focused on a target audience. The more specific you are, the sharper your wedge, the more you really understand your characters, paint the scenes they live in, and tell their stories, the faster your product-market fit journey.

Very difficult in practice.

As a founder, you’re always pitching the B.I.G. vision, and always asked “what’s on the roadmap” every 2 days, laddering up to that vision. Constantly, you’re listening to Sheila & John & Tata for any and all feedback. You’re collecting UI design feedback, bug fixes, and strategic input from all sorts of places.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of building everything, which often leads to building nothing useful.

This is top of mind for us at Parallax, as we iterate our way to find our super specific who’s.

Simple, focused and starting small is hard, but it’s the right thing to do, for the company and for your users.