Hockey Stick or J-Curve


Hockey stick growth (otherwise known as a j-curve) is a growth pattern that a company exhibits where there is an initial period of stagnant or non-existent growth, followed by an inflection point where revenue starts to pick up and then exponential growth. If you look at this pattern on a chart, it looks like a hockey stick.

When did the hockey stick growth start?

The first (and one of the best) example of hockey stick growth is Netflix. Incorporated in 1997 as a DVD rental business, Netflix experienced stagnant revenue growth for approximately three years. During this period, they launched a subscription service model and, within a year, hit their inflection point, increasing their revenue by over 2,700%. The rest is history.

What are the 4 stages of hockey stick growth?
  1. Tinkering: This is when you figure out your business idea and what product or service you’re providing the market. This phase ends when you fully commit to launching your startup.
  2. The Blade Years: This period can vary from company to company (Amazon’s lasted for ten years), but typically these are the first three to four years when you’re hustling, bootstrapping, seeking investment, but not yet seeing an increase in revenue.
  3. The Inflection Point: This is when you find the sweet spot, something clicks, and all of a sudden, revenue growth jumps, and you’re able to scale your business.
  4. Surging Growth: This is the fun part. At this stage, your revenue growth accelerates, and your business starts to scale successfully.

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