During my sophomore and junior years at Duke, I worked on startups. It was a time of iteration, of building and then asking customers what they want. The problem with iteration is that it often leads to dead ends.

Yes, iteration can steer a startup into a small market that it can hopefully conquer. But what I have realized is that iteration can also steer a startup into a miniscule market, or a decent market that has miniscule adjacent markets. Often, these adjacent markets are too small to expand into, which either kills the startup or causes another drastic pivot.

With little previous knowledge of the markets that I was operating in, I simply followed where the customer took me, learning tons about my market as I went. I followed customers into accounting, procurement, tech recruiting, political campaigns, local governments, and state governments.

After chasing after all of these customers, I have decided to take a step back and learn more about markets before doing my next startup.