Hockey Stick Growth for Startups

We work with several startups and one of the most common terms used when founders want to describe their growth is hockey stick growth.

What is hockey stick growth?

Definition: Hockey stick growth is used to define a growth pattern that a company experiences which starts on a linear trajectory, and then once a certain point is hit, growth takes off astronomically. When charted on a graph, the image looks like a hockey stick.

How long does it take to hit hockey stick growth?

The linear growth phase can last from days to years before the right product/market fit is found and truly takes off. We once worked with a startup that experienced constant linear growth, and after enough branding and marketing efforts, the company’s revenue growth took off exponentially — creating the hockey stick effect on the growth chart.

Do all company’s experience hockey stick growth?

The short answer is “No.” Not all companies will experience hockey stick growth, some will just continue on a constant upwards trajectory, or even see ups and downs depending on various factors.

How long does hockey stick growth last?

If you’re wondering if it lasts forever, the answer is also “no.” Eventually, growth will start to taper off and flatten, especially s you face the challenges of market penetration, competition, and saturation.

How to achieve hockey stick growth

There is no set strategy to create a hockey growth trend for your business. However, certain businesses do have models that are ideal for growth hacking or viral growth. These businesses (like Dropbox) are able to offer free versions or incentives for referring a friend. My favorite example is Dropbox. They had a refer a friend program to provide users with additional storage space for each friend that became a user. This resulted in tremendous growth for the company. Over the years we’ve built several programs to play on the incentivized referral model to help startups grow.