Why It’s So Hard to Scale a Great Idea - Deepstash
The Startup Masterclass

Learn more about startup with this collection

How to start a successful business

How to build a strong team

How to market your business

The Startup Masterclass

Discover 160 similar ideas in

It takes just

25 mins to read

The Challenge Of Scale

The Challenge Of Scale

Why do some products, companies, and social programs thrive as they grow while others peter out? 

There are five causes:

1) False positives, or inaccurately interpreting a piece of evidence or data;

2) Biased representativeness of population, or not making sure your samples reflect the larger population at scale;

3) Non-negotiables that can’t grow or be replicated;

4) Negative spillovers, or unintended outcomes; and

5) Cost traps.  


45 reads

False Positives

False Positives

When a seemingly promising idea loses efficacy or profitability as it expands, we call it a “voltage drop.” These failures to scale never happen because of one single reason.

False positives occur when you interpret a piece of evidence or data as proof that something is true, when in fact it isn’t — the inaccurate Covid test results. For scaling, a false positive is an erroneous sign that an idea has voltage when it really doesn’t.

When possible, the solution for rooting out false positives is to have at least three independent replications of the idea that show early promise.


25 reads

Biased Representativeness of Population

Biased Representativeness of Population

All ventures must understand their potential audience. The first way to do this is by making sure your test samples in the small scale reflect the larger population at scale.  

To weed out biases, make sure your early adopters are a random sample. You should also make sure that your survey respondents have appropriate incentives to tell you the truth. A focus group participant who says they would purchase a product if it was introduced could simply be saying, “I would love the option to consider that product in the future,” as opposed to “I will be purchasing the product in the future.”


19 reads

Non-Negotiables That Can’t Grow or Be Replicated

Non-Negotiables That Can’t Grow or Be Replicated

For an idea or enterprise to hold strong at scale, you need to know whether your “non-negotiables” — the drivers of your success — can be replicated at scale. You can’t afford all the talent you need as you grow, so you hire fewer high-performers and quality suffers at scale — a cruel voltage drop.

As you scale, regulatory constraints, resource constraints, fidelity concerns, and a host of other issues might arise. We must bring these scaling constraints back to the petri dish and make sure the idea works with them in place.


15 reads

Negative Spillovers

Negative Spillovers

A spillover effect is the unintended impact one event or outcome can have on another event or outcome. A classic example is when a city opens a new factory, and the air pollution it produces impacts the health of nearby residents.

As you scale, the likelihood of spillovers increases dramatically. General equilibrium effects, or natural readjustments of the market, are one chief cause.

When designing your idea early on, you must anticipate negative spillovers and look for opportunities to engineer and benefit from positive ones.


13 reads

The Cost Trap

The Cost Trap

To scale successfully, you need to determine not only how many people like your idea, but also what they’re willing to pay for it and, crucially, how much it will cost to provide.

  • One strategy to escape the cost trap of scaling is to make sure you benefit from economies of scale, a skill Elon Musk excels at in all his ventures.
  • Another strategy is to create models that don’t rely on top-tier talent. As you scale, finding and paying high-performers will become prohibitive. The solution is to create products that can give their full value to customers even with average performers delivering it.


13 reads


Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.



17 reads

The Bottom Line

The Bottom Line

Just like Leo Tolstoy's quote, scalable ideas are all alike; every unscalable idea is unscalable in its own way.

The difference with scaling is there are only five main obstacles you face. And once you anticipate and avoid them, you can scale your idea for the highest voltage possible.


13 reads



Explore the World’s

Best Ideas

200,000+ ideas on pretty much any topic. Created by the smartest people around & well-organized so you can explore at will.

An Idea for Everything

Explore the biggest library of insights. And we've infused it with powerful filtering tools so you can easily find what you need.

Knowledge Library

Powerful Saving & Organizational Tools

Save ideas for later reading, for personalized stashes, or for remembering it later.

# Personal Growth

Take Your Ideas


Organize your ideas & listen on the go. And with Pro, there are no limits.

Listen on the go

Just press play and we take care of the words.

Never worry about spotty connections

No Internet access? No problem. Within the mobile app, all your ideas are available, even when offline.

Get Organized with Stashes

Ideas for your next work project? Quotes that inspire you? Put them in the right place so you never lose them.


2 Million Stashers


5,740 Reviews

App Store


72,690 Reviews

Google Play

Sean Green

Great interesting short snippets of informative articles. Highly recommended to anyone who loves information and lacks patience.


Don’t look further if you love learning new things. A refreshing concept that provides quick ideas for busy thought leaders.

Ashley Anthony

This app is LOADED with RELEVANT, HELPFUL, AND EDUCATIONAL material. It is creatively intellectual, yet minimal enough to not overstimulate and create a learning block. I am exceptionally impressed with this app!

Shankul Varada

Best app ever! You heard it right. This app has helped me get back on my quest to get things done while equipping myself with knowledge everyday.

Ghazala Begum

Even five minutes a day will improve your thinking. I've come across new ideas and learnt to improve existing ways to become more motivated, confident and happier.

Giovanna Scalzone

Brilliant. It feels fresh and encouraging. So many interesting pieces of information that are just enough to absorb and apply. So happy I found this.

Laetitia Berton

I have only been using it for a few days now, but I have found answers to questions I had never consciously formulated, or to problems I face everyday at work or at home. I wish I had found this earlier, highly recommended!

Jamyson Haug

Great for quick bits of information and interesting ideas around whatever topics you are interested in. Visually, it looks great as well.

Read & Learn

20x Faster





Access to 200,000+ ideas

Access to the mobile app

Unlimited idea saving & library

Unlimited history

Unlimited listening to ideas

Downloading & offline access

Personalized recommendations

Supercharge your mind with one idea per day

Enter your email and spend 1 minute every day to learn something new.


I agree to receive email updates