My response to a question on Quora:
I guess, this is probably not the only risky bet they took.
I would not have. Hopefully, it pays out for them. I am sure they are also well meaning and sensible folks who thought deeply before taking this bold decision. No, I am not endorsing that decision. I believe it was reckless and irresponsible. Even if it eventually pays out, I think it is speculative and not worth the risk.
More importantly, on the UI and the product – I don’t think that houses are bought on the basis of maps. Buying or renting a house is a visual experience and a family would be willing to go with any area within a certain radius, if they like the house. Instead of spending 1mn USD on a domain, I would have spent my money on getting consumer insights and a great team to ensure a superlative visual and immersive experience for users.
How well you are doing as a company is really not dependent on benchmarking versus how others in the same space/stage are doing. Each company may have chosen a different path towards similar goals, or it is also quite possible that the goals and aspirations of the companies could be very different.
Hence, how well you are doing or not doing, is to be evaluated against what your own plans, goals and milestones were when you started the journey.
Not for one moment am I suggesting that you need to look at your original business plans as THE only road to follow. I have rarely seen any startup or early-stage company come even close to what their original milestones were in their business plans. Your original plans are merely a roadmap that you define to think through the different aspects of your startups journey. Once you hit the road, you have to make adjustments according to the weather conditions i.e. market realities. In some cases, the direction itself may have to be altered or changed all together. And it is perfectly all right to do that as long as it is a well-thought out plan, after taking into consideration all factors that may help you take a good and informed decision.
Therefore, if you have a well-defined business plan with your goals and milestones towards those goals well laid out, it should give you an indication of whether you are going in the right direction and at the right pace.
For your business, you need to identify what the key drivers are and that will give you leads on what you should measure your progress or success against. Each business will have its own set of key drivers or aspects on which success or failure will depend. Sales/revenues is usually just one of the indicators to measure the progress of a success of a startup. Other factors could be things like gross margins, employee efficiency, brand equity & brand familiarity within the relevant audiences, cost of customer acquisition, maturity of processes, proving of the business model, organization structure in place (or getting into place), key people on board, attrition rate, quality of contracts and respect of partners/vendors, etc. are all examples of indicators of what can be tracked to check if you are doing well as a business.