The First 1000 Are the Toughest—and Ali Abouelatta’s Tracking It

Ali Abouelatta started First1000 to share the origin stories of startups. With over 25,000 subscribers, people are reading.

Steven Puri

Steven Puri

Ali Abouelatta First 1000

First 1000

Ali Abouelatta loved telling his friends the inside stories of how startups gain traction.  His friends, however, weren’t always so enthused.

So he started a Substack to share their origin myths. 

Little did Abouelatta know how many people would be interested in hearing about how scrappy companies acquire their first 1,000 users.  Considering that his email list is now over 25,000 strong, people are listening. 

As he told us about his adventure, 

It's extremely helpful for founders to know how to kickstart a company.

To date, Abouelatta has told the histories of Snapchat, Tinder, Spotify, Airbnb—companies so ubiquitous that you forget they were once startups struggling for attention in a saturated marketplace. 

For each Sunday morning article, he spends hours listening to podcasts, watching videos, researching origins, and occasionally speaking to the founders themselves. 

Those insights are powerful, especially for startups looking to break into their respective industries.  Abouelatta writes clearly and concisely, transporting you inside of the heads of founders navigating the treacherous terrain of seed-round funding and bootstrapping. 

How does he cover so much territory while attaining his Master’s degree at Cornell Tech?  Well, you’ll hear his notifications during our conversation, as he jokes about. 

Context switching is so hard.  Eight hours go by and you realize you didn’t do what you wanted to do. 

Not that all is lost: Abouelatta deleted many of his work apps from his phone to help him focus on what matters most.  Freeing up that mental space helps him when he sits down to type his thoughts onto the screen every weekend. 

And we’re grateful that he does that.



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