My top three tips for Tech Founders?
1. Don’t wait for perfection. Launch a basic product and then assess market feedback to establish your development priorities.
2. Recruit subject experts from your client community. They will know exactly how to provide invaluable insight into your pre-sales, implementation, support and development roadmap.
3. Keep asking “why”. Everyone will offer you solutions, not problems. Don’t be afraid to look stupid and don’t let go until you understand the underlying problem you are asked to solve.
Make sure your product fills a gap in the market or solves one or more problems. If there is limited demand or interest – you fail before you start. Talk to your target market, research their problems and perform competitor analysis. Is the market saturated? How can you fit in? If your product is identical you only compete on price, which should be enough for a rethink.
Careful planning of the foundations, whether security, frameworks, CI/CD, business processes, controls, databases and core modules, is essential to building a solid product.
Actively manage and mitigate risks including: systems, code, staff, business processes, the marketplace, third-party risks as well as general BCP.
1. Validate your idea prior to building your product
Speak to potential customers and ensure you understand their needs and problems intrinsically. If and when you find a gap and problem to solve, you can build a landing page and try and get pre product signups to validate your idea. Theres nothing worse then spending long periods of time building a product that nobody wants or needs.
2. Building your product
If you have a technical background and plan on building your MVP yourself then great, if you plan on hiring a team or freelancing the project out, make sure you hire a super qualified technical team. Using the wrong devs will cost you endless amounts of time and money that you dont have and could potentially kill your idea and business before it starts.
3. Test, evolve, repeat
Great product teams who go on to build great companies hypothesise, test and evolve constantly. SaaS is never “Finished” you can always improve every area of the business which is what I love the most about being a founder. You can optimise your product, customer service, marketing, website and everything in between.
(bonus) 4. Be wiling listen to people around you
As a general rule, try and hire people smarter than you!. Always be willing to listen and take others feedback. Its a collaborative effort that requires the skills of many great people to create a successful startup
I would summarize starting a tech start up as follows:-
Building a SaaS start up..
1, Talk to customers. Work out the TAM.
2, listen to customer problems, not solutions
3, Beta/prototype user testing
4, build the solution to their problems
5, test the solution with them
6, Does it work? If not go back to 1
7, by the time you are here you will have tried at least 25 times!
Dont ask for harsh feedback, demand it! You need to listen very carefully to exaclty what your customers are saying and test the vaildity of what they say too, with questions like ‘If we build that feature request, exactly how does that solve your problem and can you quantify how much time or money that would save you?’ If you can put a value on something it will also help prioritise your roadmap and rapidly add value to your product. Dont be the vitamin (nice to have), be the aspirin (cure the headache).
All the above is easy to say, but is very hard to do. Once you start solving problems you will get much better feedback and interest in what you are doing. If no one is calling you back or responding, you havent found market fit yet and are not solving problems.
Try not to pitch your product at the beginning, just ask very open questions like ‘tell me about a recent problem you had and how you solved it’.
From day one get access to external help and advice through business mentors, peers, or friends that have run their own start-up. Working in the business every day makes seeing through the trees hard and having that outside person looking in can provide simple insights that you may have missed.
Always ask you customers what they are trying to achieve, not what they want, there is nearly always a better way to solve problems that your customers have and doing this one thing will help solve similar problems for the many
Great performance really does matter, its a sales tool not a technical desire to add later on, you can’t add a first impression later
Stay focussed on your direction and vision, less is more in many cases, you can ship earlier than you think, the feedback will tell you what is important and what will bring value.
Think before you code (and get your team to do the same). Time spent on the design phase of a problem is worth far more than time spent coding it.
Spend time on your tooling. A well designed CI/CD system will save a massive amount of lost dev time, so you should build this first.
Have a roadmap: know where you want to go (but be prepared to change it!).
Negotiate hard, don’t be generous, be selfish, after you have what you want then you can then choose to be more generous.
Always do your very best to keep your promises.
Your trust is a precious gift, keep it that way.
Be clear with these questions and you can achieve what you need –
1. What will be my role in the new company : full–time employee, advisory board member, executive, or consultant?
2. What are the goals for the company? Is it to grow the company and position it for an acquisition or a possible initial public offering (IPO)? Or, is it to build a small, yet sustainable business?
3. Will capital from private investment companies be needed? If so, will the company eventually be sold or go public? Private investors rely on these exit strategies to get a return on their investments.
1. Start your business with the purpose. Then you will be able to easily attract the right People (team, partners, clients and investors) who will be able to help you succeed.
2. Think like a big business from the very beginning. Pay attention and invest time in building processes because that’s the only way to scale your business in the future.
3. Your idea is important but not as important as its’ execution. You may be able to come up with hundreds of ideas every day but can you turn at least one of them into a reality? Do you have the patience, discipline and persistence to make it happen?
My 1st tip to any tech-founder would be; love your technology, however, never lose sight of your customers’ ground realities – remain relevant at all times. 2nd, every word is your promise, and your brand is the promises you make and promises you keep; any variance between the two will erode your brand value. 3rd, feel everything around you. Giants I know, know exactly how I feel – not what I know.
Your investors want you to “go big or go home.” But 95 percent of all funded ventures go under within three years. While it’s your job to listen to customers, stay engaged with the market, don’t make all the usual mistakes, etc., you are still very likely to be out of work in just a year or two. Don’t be surprised when it happens.
The number one cause of new-business failure is failure to make the sale. Teams spend too much time on engineering and product. Make the sale first. All successful companies’ first products suck! But they made the sale. Sell first. Improve second.