If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.Henry David Thoreau
I recently had an interaction at Chitkara University, India where I had been invited for a Q&A Session.
I have shared ideas on Market, Team, Product and Relevance of Incubator and Accelerator programs, amongst other components of company building.
The recorded session is shared below, as also some of the ideas shared right after.
I . Market
What you choose to work on, is more important than simply working hard on something.
When choosing to work on your venture and business, it is important to understand the value of your offering for your customers and users, as also evaluate what the potential market looks like.
Should you choose a Market which is not already big enough, or which would not be big if the market does not already exist and your venture is disrupting the status quo, or one which does not really need your product or offering; not only might the venture not see much success in the earliest of days without proper targeting, there will also be no long term success even with the best of focus and targeting as venture tries to scale; plus the angel investors and venture capitalists (VCs) will also find it more difficult to understand and partner for the long term potential of the venture.
Aim and plan for a big enough market where should you achieve product market fit and success in the longer term, the potential outcome makes it worthwhile for all the hard work put in by you and your team, plus for all the stakeholders of your business.
Your venture is only as strong as the sum of its parts : It’s important to build your team with diligence and careful consideration.
Ensure that you are able to get onboard team members you trust and respect, and who bring complimentary skillsets to the table. They may or may not be leaders with whom you might have collaborated or worked with before, or have the honour of calling your friends yet.
Whilst it is helpful to evaluate their track records and what each team member brings to the table, it also helps to have the harder conversations should the intended partnerships not eventually fructify in terms of working together plus with respect to outcomes in the days ahead. Understanding of equity partnerships and vesting schedules, and building a culture where people see meritocracy and hard work winning, with mutual respect for each other, a sense of ownership for the venture, and trying to do each one’s best for the end customer / user will prove helpful.
Set the goals and vision high, and build inch by inch fastidiously.
Building the first functional MVP (minimum viable product), and continuing to keep building an iterated product or offering which keeps working better for your end customer / user, is easier ideated and said than done.
When working on the product or offering, it is also helpful to think around the Go-To-Market strategy (GTM), customer and user acquisition, distribution channels and potential revenue channels, amongst other considerations.
Assuming you have built a team around some of the Step I and Step II considerations, and are keeping an eye out for the next team members, ensure you are leveraging the team in full strength and not in silos. This means ensuring you are able to take in considerations from all quarters, and keep alleviating potential issues and concerns, and iterating on ideas and execution to arrive at a bare minimum MVP which can be released into the market and which would be improved upon with feedback.
It’s perfectly fine and ok to be embarrassed by the earliest MVPs you release as beta or otherwise : Observe closely as to what the users actually do with your product (vs what they might say they do or what they say they intend to do). Take good care of the earliest adopters and observe comments and feedback as to how users / customers are using your product and the feedback generated, as you iterate and try to improve upon all of the considerations, and keep building a better product.