What are OKRs? A Guide for Startup Success


Oren Todoros

OKR Planning

In the whirlwind of startup life, you might find yourself coding one minute, pitching to investors the next, and drafting a blog post shortly after. Amidst this tumult, a structured approach like OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) can provide much-needed direction, especially for fledgling teams. This method not only clarifies priorities but also sparks innovation by framing projects as strategic bets to achieve overarching goals.

Let’s explore how startups can implement OKRs effectively, complete with practical examples to kickstart your journey.

Decoding OKRs

OKRs are a goal-setting framework pioneered by tech giants Intel and Google and have become indispensable for companies aiming to boost performance and foster growth. This system comprises two key components:

  1. Objectives: Aspirational, qualitative aims that answer “What do we want to accomplish?”
  2. Key Results: Concrete, quantifiable outcomes that address “How will we measure our success?”

Here’s a good way to start defining your OKRs:

I will ________ as measured by ____________.

Crafting OKRs for Your Startup

Step 1: Distinguish Between OKRs and Projects

Before diving in, it’s crucial to differentiate between Objectives, Key Results, and projects:

  • Objectives: Your quarterly aspirations
  • Key Results: Your progress metrics
  • Projects: Your strategic initiatives to achieve goals

Objectives should inspire and be universally understood within your organization. Key Results should adhere to the SMART framework, particularly emphasizing relevance, measurability, and time-bound qualities. Projects are your tactical bets – some will succeed, others may fail, but all contribute to your learning process.

Step 2: Pinpoint Your Focus

The AARRR framework (Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, Revenue) can help narrow your focus. For nascent startups, prioritizing Retention and Activation is often most beneficial.

Key considerations:

  • Are we addressing a genuine user pain point?
  • Is our product engaging users repeatedly?
  • Do we have sufficient user insights?
  • How seamless is our onboarding process?

Initially, concentrate on product stickiness before refining your user acquisition strategies.

Step 3: Draft Your Plan

After identifying your focus areas, outline 2-3 Objectives before delving into Key Results. For objectives that extend beyond a quarter, seek leading indicators of success. This approach ensures you’re not operating in the dark for extended periods.

Startup OKR Examples

  1. MVP Development OKRs Objective: Create a successful MVP
    • KR1: Attain 100 weekly active users
    • KR2: Achieve an NPS above 40
    • KR3: Secure 5 paying customers

  2. Product Launch OKRs Objective: Prepare for a stellar launch next quarter
    • KR1: Secure coverage in 10 reputable publications
    • KR2: Enlist 5 influencers for launch day promotion
    • KR3: Build a 1,000-strong mailing list

  3. Product-Market Fit OKRs Objective: Achieve product-market fit
    • KR1: Score 40% on Product-Market Fit survey
    • KR2: Boost 4-month user retention from 10% to 45%
    • KR3: Increase weekly leads from 25 to 100

  4. Seed Funding OKRs Objective: Position for seed round acquisition
    • KR1: Reach $200k ARR
    • KR2: Demonstrate 3x year-on-year revenue growth
    • KR3: Show 25% month-on-month lead growth

  5. Customer Advocacy OKRs Objective: Transform customers into brand champions
    • KR1: Garner 100 reviews on G2 or Capterra
    • KR2: Generate 20 leads/week through referrals
    • KR3: Publish 10 customer success stories

Monitoring Your OKRs

Effective OKR tracking is as crucial as setting them. Here are some best practices:

  1. Conduct Weekly Check-ins: Regular reflections keep OKRs at the forefront of team discussions.
  2. Track Confidence Levels: Use a simple color-coding system to indicate confidence in achieving each goal.
  3. Visualize Trends: Look at progress trends to avoid misleading short-term results.


Implementing OKRs can revolutionize how startups operate, providing a clear roadmap for goal-setting and achievement. By establishing ambitious objectives, defining measurable key results, and maintaining consistent check-ins, founders can steer their startups towards enduring success. Embrace the OKR framework to stay focused, aligned, and adaptable in the ever-evolving startup landscape.

For startups seeking to refine their OKR strategy and effectively communicate their goals, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at BIGINTRO for tailored support and expert insights.

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