This Week In Startups #865: Nextdoor CEO & Co-founder Nirav Tolia

Full podcast here.

  • Old fashioned distribution for a social network: Postcards. You can see a map of your neighborhood and select neighbors you want to invite to Nextdoor. Next door will print, ship, and pay to send your neighbors a postcard invitation. Nextdoor has spent millions of dollars on these postcards. 

  • Nextdoor had to find ways to grow organically: All conversations are private. There is no search engine optimization as a way to grow. There is no social sharing. Nextdoor grows by word of mouth, email invites, and postcard invites. It’s amazing that something so old fashioned as a printed piece of mail can have a conversion rate so high. 

  • The benefits of slow, sustained growth: The growth curve is systematic and regular when you don’t have some of the growth hacks that make you feel good. You won’t get to 100 million users overnight. But what goes up quickly, goes down quickly. Nextdoor took the slower, more deliberate path. 

  • Slower growth wasn’t an active choice: We were extremely scared when we made these decisions. We wondered if there was an easier path. For us, there never has been. The only path to where we are today has been slow, steady and high-quality growth. 

  • Nextdoor is more like Google than Facebook: We don’t want to keep you online. We want you to meet neighbors on the app and then spend time in person. Google doesn’t care about how long you use Google. They want you to get your results as quickly as possible because they know you’ll come back. We know the dangers of engagement at all costs. 

  • If you could go back in time before you started your first company and give yourself advice, what would you say? I’d tell myself to believe the journey is the reward. It’s a privilege to build companies. But it is not easy. You have to be comfortable with people criticizing you.