WD-40 and duct tape – the two important tools a start up needs

Patrick Pando is mentoring at Web Summit – for more details check out #SageMentorHours. His expertise lies in growth hacking, building high performance digital sales teams, SaaS revenue models and unsolvable SaaS conundrums.

Key to a start-up success is knowing when to apply some WD-40 and when to use the duct tape.

Let’s go back a step. A running joke in my house was that my Dad only had two tools in his tool box – WD-40 and duct tape. He used duct tape for getting slipping things to stick and WD-40 for getting sticking things to slip. Simple.

‘Simple’ works for start-ups. No matter how great your technology or service you have to remain hyper vigilant on rooting out friction and a maniac about creating client stickiness every step of the way.

Arming yourself with virtual WD-40 and duct tape is critical to your start up success. It’s all about removing friction in the client journey and making a product as sticky as possible.

How to apply WD-40 and duct tape

Start with the customer experience, not the technology.

Spray WD-40 liberally on every idea that makes it easier for customers to find, acquire and use your solution. And stick loads of duct tape on the ideas that make it easier to collect data, charge or integrate with other services.

Your job is to ruthlessly root out friction and make the client experience smooth and easy.

Use duct tape on every idea that makes the product stickier. Constantly be challenging your team adopt or develop tools that drives stickiness and use of the product.

The problem with WD-40 and duct tape

Often making things slippery and then getting them to stick are directly opposing forces in your start-up.

For example, a detailed sign-in form may help you tailor a sticky solution, but may be so difficult to use that it discourages any new subscribers.

Application depends on the stage of your start up

When to reach for the WD-40 and when to use the duct tape may depend on the stage of your start up.

In the early stages, you will want to spray WD-40 liberally until your firm reaches critical mass. Then reaching for duct tape may make sense.

table - patrick

A rule of thumb for applying WD-40 or duct tape:
Always use WD-40 to fearsomely fight friction in all processes and use duct tape to vigilantly drive stickiness to the product and online experience.


  • Make it fun but make it constant. When you’re starting up, you and everyone on you team need to fight friction.
  • Keep it customer focused. Often what is what makes things easier for your team or your partners – add friction to your customers.


Patrick Pando

Patrick Pando

Patrick's expertise lies in growth hacking, building high performance digital sales teams, SaaS revenue models and unsolvable SaaS conundrums.