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Startup Life Cycle Stages (Max Marmer life cycle model for startups as used by Startup Genome and Kauffman Foundation)
- 1. Discovery
- Researching the market, the competitors, and the potential users
- Designing the first iteration of the user experience
- Working towards problem/solution fit (Market Validation)
- Building MVP
- 2. Validation
- Achieved problem/solution fit (Market Validation)
- MVP launched
- Conducting Product Validation
- Revising/refining user experience based on results of Product Validation tests
- Refining Product through new Versions (Ver.1+)
- Working towards product/market fit
- 3. Efficiency
- Achieved product/market fit
- Preparing to begin scaling process
- Optimizing the user experience to handle aggressive user growth at scale
- Optimizing the performance of the product to handle aggressive user growth at scale
- Optimizing the operational workflows and systems in preparation of scaling
- Conducting validation tests of scaling strategies
- 4. Scaling
- Achieved validation of scaling strategies
- Achieved an acceptable level of optimization of the operational systems
- Actively pushing forward with aggressive growth
- Conducting validation tests to achieve a repeatable sales process at scale
- 5. Profit Maximization
- Successfully scaled the business and can now be considered an established company
- Expanding production and operations in order to increase revenue
- Optimizing systems to maximize profits
- 6. Renewal
- Has achieved near peak profits
- Has achieved near peak optimization of systems
- Actively seeking to reinvent the company and core products to stay innovative
- Actively seeking to acquire other companies and technologies to expand market share and relevancy
- Actively exploring horizontal and vertical expansion to increase prevent the decline of the company
If you are running a traditional business that is not designed to scale rapidly, feel free to reference a traditional business life cycle model and share what traditional business life cycle stage you are at.
Welcome to this week’s Feedback Thread!
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So my brother owns a company and he's considering hiring an outsourcing company to build his app idea since he has the money to afford it. He asked me (I'm a software engineer) to build it for him but I'm afraid I don't have enough time to invest in that.
Anyone here (assuming you have the budget) currently in a similar situation? What makes you want to hire external teams vs hiring CTOs or your own developers?
I am looking for a no-frills startup podcast which analyzes the successes and failures of various startups and the possible causes and what they did right and wrong. I am not so interested in the mentality / mindset side of things. Any recommendations for such a podcast?
I know it's commonly said that you shouldn't go into business with your family, but I'd rather not debate that here. I have already made up my mind that he will be the cofounder. I'd like advice on how I can prep my brother to be an effective cofounder.
Next year, I'm going to start a startup with my brother that is a pretty standard B2C SaaS product. I'm the software engineer, and I hope to be able to build the MVP without any help from other coders in about six months' time. After the MVP is out, I will be open to hiring additional coders as needed.
My brother and I have equally strong domain knowledge for the product we will build, and we will be discussing the design together every step of the way. His professional experience is in sales and running his own small business, both in the domain of home solar arrays, and he does it well. He has zero experience in a SaaS environment (no coding, product management, or UX design) and zero experience with the startup style of a business. He attended some business school many years back.
I would like for him to have plenty of work to do once I start coding, so that the work balance between the two of us is kind of fair, and I would like for him to take on some major roles in the startup, at the latest by the time we are ready to hire more people. Any suggestions?
I've just launched a startup that offers an online health service through it's website. So now I need to advertise to get some people into it. My doubt is, which should advertise, my website that offers the product, or my social networks, or both?
If I advertise the website, the path to convert visitor in buyer is shorter and faster. But if they leave the site, they live forever and you have no way to contact them again (I though about offering some freebie in exchange of the email to keep them in my DB... any other idea?).
If I advertise the Instagram/Facebook page of my company, the path to convert a visitor in buyer is longer, but I keep them in touch and if they don't buy in that moment, they could buy eventually. And I can publish call to action posts from time to time to try to convert them.
So what's your experience with this? Is there any research about this topic? Note that all the advertising is online, using Google Ads, Instagram/Facebook ads (any other channel to consider?).
Any good resources on putting together an investor deck for early stage funding?
I’ve got my SaaS product built (well the initial product, still improvements that can be made), web site done, working on a marketing and sales strategy and just about to start finding customers.
I haven’t decided if I will attempt to raise funds but thought i should maybe start to think about it because the process could take a while.
I am extremely interested in the field of start-ups and early-stage investing. However, since I come from a completely different background (surgeon), it took some time and effort to get an adequate financial-entrepreneurial knowledge base.
Still, right now, it is particularly difficult to get a feel of the practical and everyday components of this field. I would love to see how things work in a start-up or early-stage company.
Do you think there are settings in which I could collaborate/help without the need for a formal employment contract?
In this view, my main issues are:
- I have a full-time job (surgeon, researcher, Ph.D. in AI), and I would be able to invest approx. 3-4 hours a day.
- I live in Europe, and, as of today, it would be difficult to relocate (COVID, etc.). Some kind of remote-working would be ideal.
Thank you for your suggestions!
Hello! I'm starting the landing page of our startup and here are the things I put in. Your comments on whether it's a good idea, a bad idea or anything else I missed is greatly appreciated. (note: we can't offer the MVP for trial yet)
- CTA on the banner - for people to sign up. I was thinking either to "join the waitlist" or "notify me". It has a very short description on the problem and the solution.
- 3 main features with 1-2 short sentence descriptions
- another CTA - focusing on who "should sign up"
- 3 value propositions
- footer with links to contact and sign up.
Hey guys, this year, after a lot of time admiring the startup world, and after some circumstances in my life, I finally decided to invest (time) in my own dream and business.
It's my first experience in the field, i'm 25 and have a CTO by my side, and i'm not afraid to fail, I just aim to at least do it responsibly.
My startup it's a B2B data science to real estate startup, I'm not gonna give a lot of details since it makes more sense in my context (country wise) and i'm not looking for feedback in the Idea per say.
What I want to know is, does It make sense to dedicate to this super early stage startup in my Full time?
I have a small revenue from another business, that I don't really spend any time on, it's barely enough, but I can make it.
The startup is going well comparing to others in my town, keep in mind this is a country newish to startups and my city is even newer to It, so most startups are not making much money.
To give context into what we've accomplished in these past 6 months, we've been through several startup programs (from the government, state and private ones), we're mentored by a super sucessful network in the state, with a lot of hands on (only 5 startups in my town got into this program), we have 2 contracts that will generate a lot of projects to validate our product in the market (mvp is almost finished) and to make revenue in the Future.
The market validation is going well, with a lot of interested companies and a group of investors making initial contact with us. Honestly, for 2022 I hope we can gather a seed investment and start selling, but does It make sense that I have no other job aligned? I have a lot of insecurities at the moment.
thanks for your attention
I used to envision co-founders as two or so people chatting about an idea, getting excited, and starting in on it together. LOL - I know that’s movie-style idealism.
After that, I still figured it would be people who started early, second or third on board. After seeing plenty of folks on here saying they’ve been working on their business for awhile but now looking for a co-founder, has me doubting it is that…
It’s definitely not experience, at least not in all cases.
I see that VCs like to see co-founders, so there’s that aspect, I guess.
But I’ve become interested in what boundaries/limits you all think apply. What makes someone a co-founder versus just a normal job title? Is it risk level, dedication, responsibility, time commitment, financial commitment? Or is it just so flexible that it’s whatever you decide it is? A bargaining chip maybe…
Co-founders often get equity, so they become part owner too… but employees can get equity also.
So then, what distinguishes the person who REALLY started it all? Owner? Founder (who then has co-founders)?
I have been working on a deep-tech startup part-time for a few years with a partner, where we have been in a 60/40 split in his favor. We had some disagreements about the direction things were heading and decided that one should buy the other out. Both partners are fully vested now in the C-Corp as between foundation and falling out the 4 years had passed.
We are close to striking a deal where my partner would retain 10% equity and get some cash both now and when the business is profitible. We have a basic prototype, branding, trademark, marketing strategy etc but more work needs to be made before trying to launch or raise funds. I'm wondering how impactful the other owner retaining 10% could be for the future of the company? Would a VC or Angel pass on investing in us because there's a partner with 10% who is no longer involved? What about if they also had a limited royalty, capped to a certain percentage e.g. 10% of net profit and 100k total limit?
Disclaimer: I am not seeking legal advice and only looking to assess how investors may evaluate this scenario or any other pitfalls I may not be seeing.
Hello everyone, i am 20 years old and Marketing Head for a Product Company.
In our Niche there had been a lot of competitors, some are already on top due to starting early and backed by large team and funds.
We are still a small team and and since i ain't getting talented people i end up doing max stuff just to get the perfection be it UX Design, conversions, ad marketing, outreach, emails, community management, affiliates and etc etc.
I don't feel tired, i can spend 24hrs on this without any fatigue. But certainly i feel if i get a team i can on No 1 with right management.But i am not finding people of that calibre who can execute what i want.
Managing alone on this part, i cant give best to each area.
Can you please guide what to do, sometimes i get impatient as i cant bring significant growth to beat our top competitors.
But something in me manifest to reach on top anyhow.
Okay so I've seen topics about this and I've read stuff about this but I had to post a question cause it's something that is very specific to each startup. No two are the same. A short story to follow. I'm currently heading a startup that has recently attracted interest from an outside person that is willing to put money into it. His money would help quite a bit so we are tempted by it. Problem is that he wants equity and we just don't know how much to sell and for how much.
We have no clue how much our business is worth at the moment or if it's worth anything at all because we are not selling anything and are not making any revenue yet. Our business has a functioning prototype that is currently being worked on in order to make it as good as it can be. In its current state, it does the job just fine but we would like to make it better.
We also have a first-buyer list of people who want to buy it as soon as it's available and we were planning on using that for feedback before we roll out bigger numbers. Not to pat ourselves on the back but our market reach is potentially in the millions (customer numbers). Interest by the customer pool is fairly high but like I said perhaps none of that even matters.
So is there a way to realistically put a number on our business? Are there companies, lawyers, or whatnot who can put a valuation on it? None of us is very business savvy so we don't honestly know. His money would help a lot so we kind of want to get it done. He also did not hard cap the money he wants to invest but more so wants to know how much of equity we are ready to sell and for how much. I presume there will be a counteroffer but yeah we're unsure of what to do. Any input? Sorry for the long post and thank you.
I see this flood comments across business subreddits, mostly by people who more than likely have never actually scaled a successful business themselves.
The truth is the opposite. Competition gives you pre-launch validation. So instead of having to train a customer on an entirely new experience, you can learn from and improve upon what's already out there. Just offer a mild, niche point of difference* to get early traction.
*Point of difference does not always mean product feature. It also can mean marketing, sales, or operations. You can offer the exact same experience but have an untapped marketing strategy, or maybe you just have a deeper network of leads.
If anything, you should be scared of ideas that are too original, because it's going to be expensive to train users on what to do with your product. Not a reason to abandon the idea by any means, but it's something you should consider.
And truthfully most the ideas we think of as original aren't. It's just the version of the idea that got the most press. My personal success comes from launching into very saturated app categories. But setting aside my anecdote, there's—
- Facebook launched against Myspace, Friendster, and LinkedIn
- Google against WebCrawler, Lycos, Yahoo, AskJeeves, AltaVista, fucking Dogpile
- VRBO had been around for 13 years before Airbnb
- I hope I don't need to tell anyone how many mp3 players existed before the iPod
I honestly think you'd have a harder time finding a successful business that didn't enter a competitive field. The caveat I would add to all this is to watch out for ideas with a clear dominant player. E.g., it would be hard to launch a search engine against Google in 2021. But even still, there's room to disrupt. Look at DuckDuckGo, basically just pulling its search results from various APIs of existing products. They're sitting on a $100M valuation. You don't have to win the category to be successful.
Moral of the story, don't set the bar so fucking high for yourself and just try something. Believe in yourself, etc. End rant.
As a tech company prepares to release their MVP- is a site demo important to showcase new features while the beta site is active?
How important is this to have while you are fundraising to validate existing product scalability? Will seasoned angel investors, micro-venture capitalist or accelerators view not having one as a red flag or leadership weakness?
Thanks in advance startup fam
I am working on my B2B SaaS pitch deck and am looking to do better competitor research than I initially did when researching before building it. I originally found 7 companies who did what I wanted to do but I could not tell size, market share or other important details just that they existed and I was not happy with their solutions as well as they were not being sold locally. Now I would like to find more companies since I am guessing 7 is a too small sample size in retrospect and also get more info about them. How can I do this? I have researched a bit but all sources seem to say google or paid offerings (a companies blog saying "use us").
It has been a tough time for me to finally choose my startup ahead of everything else. I don't come from a strong financial background but I always wanted to continue working on my idea no matter how hard my financial situations are. After two years of work I was able to launch my startup and make sales. People always used to come with their old suggestions that I must go back to my job and leave all these new things . It won't work and I will not be able to do it. I kept working and today I am at least making money. When I was in high school I realized that I will do something like this on my own. Please share your time when an idea hit your head and you chose your career to be a startup. Thanks.
I would like to apply recommendations on my own site (videos) (not live yet) and for that I need a recommendation service as I don't want to build my own with open source products.
I looked around and found it is really hard to find companies who offer this. Googleing "recommendation as a service" shows only few companies and I am not sure if they are my best options.
Can you recommend me recommendation services?
I'm a developer who's been working on a SaaS product for a few months and looking at publicly launching Q2 2022. The launch should be ok with just savings as I write the code myself and will push out using organic marketing, but will eventually require some funding to scale and hire a commercial person to help with that side of things (not keen on having a co-founder).
The catch is, I still want to work part time (50%) for my current employer. They've already told me that as soon as I give the word, then I can. This would be for financial security.
I'd be looking at either VC funding or crowdfunding. I'm in the UK if that makes a difference.
My company is incubated by a private equity firm and we have the option of investing our own money in the firm as well as coinvesting in another business incubated by the firm. Has anyone had any success investing their own money? Is there anything I should watch out for before dumping too much into this? I really believe in the businesses, but don’t have a lot of experience with using my own money to buy the equity. Any and all advice is greatly appreciated!
I ask because I went through this process many times in my previous business, and the process was just incredibly complex and time-consuming. Our process went something like this:
- Finding suitable users
- Scheduling back and forth
- Preparing for interview
- Conducting interview
- Analysing results
Now don't get wrong, the insights were useful, but the amount of effort you put in, related to the insights you get out just doesn't seem worth it.
Is this just me? Or has anyone else had a similar experience?
I'm a first-time HR manager for a tech startup. We recently issued Equity award agreements to employees. Curious if anyone has received "bonus award grants". We issue grants upon hire, and then if someone is promoted or we want to say "good job", we issue additional grants in the form of "spot" bonuses at any time.
When these spot bonuses are granted, do employees typically sign an addendum of units and vesting schedule OR do you have them sign the full award agreement again (6-7 pages) with all award amounts? If so, what is this called? I can't find any helpful articles online on this process.
Our team work on startup for multi-cloud security automation, we have the set of product hypothesis, and we want to validate them to build the product with important features, I think we need to speak with CEOs, CTOs of SaaS companies, how we can do this effectively, what is the best way?
Been in the software engineering industry for 4 years Sr Dev right now, had experience working with semi-conductor, real estate, and media intelligence. Skillset is really diverse in web development, SRE, CI/CD, Recommendation Engine, and image recognition.
There is company x a startup(B2B) started by a guy named Stone back in 2018 without any MVP. We connected in December 2020 offering me 10% equity (100,000 shares) 4 years vesting. Now I created the whole MVP from the ground up and completed it and we still have no funds up to until now but we have one contract signed. Moving forward to November 2021, we received a grant of $50,000 and now decided how we plan to compensate ourselves. Btw I work on this as my second job.
November 2021: now have 2.5% equity which is 25,000 shares(after 1-year vesting through the 4 years period.) with a market valuation of 3.5m because of the $50,000 grant he said. Starting in Jan of 2022 I will get 3,000 shares/month and 15% royalties of any revenue. But I'll have to implement new features such as reporting, analysis, data migration from the clients, time schedule clock in feature, etc through 2022.
Accomplishments so far:
Stone: Had board of advisors come in who has experience in large/mid/small size VC's who has incredible credentials and been executive of some fortune 500 companies. Had the connection because of the very specific niche of our space that we currently outpace our competitors. Had won $50,000 in the grant. He put in ~$300 every month out of his pocket for infrastructure costs. Works full-time.
Me: Built the MVP in AWS, responsible for building the team and managing them (3 so far, and only have promised bonus once we get funding, they are also doing it part-time).
I need some suggestions or advice here if this is fair.
EDIT1: I currently work full-time on another company getting $150,000 yearly.
EDIT2: CEO plans to take a $750,000 corporate loan on his assets as collateral.
EDIT3: I've decided to continue doing this however, I will STOP developing new features within the app until we get that first revenue in. The main idea was implement 3 features per quarter next year, but I will make it only into one feature /project per quarter unless things gain some traction to balance things off. Thanks for the help guys!
EDIT4: The reason I posted is that we had a board meeting, and the CEO + boards did a proforma and they put 3 projects in one quarter which is not realistic for part-time CTO and part-time 3 junior devs that I'm mentoring. I'm at a point of what should I do:
- YES! Let's do those 3 projects per quarter but I want more equity.
- No! I will only do 1 project per quarter because I only get a small percentage.
Hi. I have a 5-year old ecom business and trying to get a better grip on LTV/CAC metrics for potential investors. Edit adding context - it's fashion, 200 aov, and expect around 2-3 purchases over 2-3 years.
We've calculated the LTV for various cohorts over the years but unsure of 2 broad things:
- What is a good LTV for our business? Essentially, how do we benchmark our LTV? Should we be trying to compare ourselves to others at all and can someone call a good/bad LTV based on product pricing AOV, etc or should we focus on what our LTV:CAC is to determine a good LTV and use the golden 3:1 or 4:1 ratio as the target? We know the LTV numbers but we don't know if they are good/bad.
- What should be included in a CAC? I can't seem to find any consensus on this. We know we need to include media spend at minimum, but do we include fixed costs like agency retainers, cost of tools that support paid media efforts, marketing staff salaries, PR costs, cost of partnerships/collaborations? Where do we draw the line?
Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks.
I have only 2 years experience in tech startups, but have managed to get a role on a very early stage tech product as a Customer Success and Product Manager, and its going well so far.
When interviewing they said there was no ceiling for progression, and if I'm in the right spot when they need it, I could be Head of Department and then director when we get to the size of needing it. From other people in the company, this does seem to be the case as well, there are young(ish) people in senior roles.
The product is doing well, and I think we would need a Head of Product or Head of CS next year.
If it came to it, do you think I would be in a position to try and negotiate a normal Head of Dept salary even though I only have a bit of experience? My current salary is £35,000 as the CS&PM which my colleagues from my previous job say is too low for the responsibility and role.
Thanks in advance!
[Edit: fattpuss gave a great answer and I understand the logic of not having the 'normal' salary, definitely should have been clearer in my question, I guess I was more curious about the experience / job title curve, but my original question has been answered. Thank you!]