If you have read the previous posts, you know we are a Manchester based, early stage tech startup. First of all, Manchester isn’t London, and London isn’t San Francisco or the famous Silicon Valley. But Manchester today is much more vibrant than when I setup ebdex at the end of 2004. It was a Fintech startup, but the word Fintech was not even coined then.
Over the years, I’ve adopted two methodologies, one around stages the company is in and the other around how I build various part of the business.
5 Stages of a Tech Startup
- Setting up and finding the Problem/Solution Fit.
- Getting it right and finding Product/Market Fit
- Growth Level 1 – Geographical and Market Expansion
- Growth Level 2 – Acquisitions
- Growth Level 3 – Market Dominance
Looking back at this Framework today, which I believe still holds truth, at least for me, my new company is currently in the Problem/Solution Fit stage. I would qualify this further by stating that we are in fact searching for the Fit.
If you search on the Internet, you can find many models similar to the one below. To me, Problem/Solution Fit is more than the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Its actually the Minimum Saleable Product (MSP), as for SaaS, using and not paying, does not prove that the next user will pay for your product.
Parts of the Business
I cannot recall when I started adopting this, but I feel that I have always adopted it. I believe it originated from the Value Chain principles. As all of my previous startup attempts except for my tenure at Causeway and Livestax, has been my own crazy ideas (whether original or adopted and refined), this has worked well but I rarely had the opportunity to test it at scale. So on day 1, when it might be just you or you might be lucky enough to have few co-founders, I would split the business into 10 areas, these being:
- Opportunity – Understanding and challenging the assumptions, strategy and your business planning even if its just a lean canvas.
- Product – Development of your product
- Marketing – Building brand awareness to lead generation
- Sales – Sales pipelines to closing sales faster
- Operations – Running the business and scaling the running of the business
- Service – Looking after customers and providing the best possible service at every customer touch point
- Finance – From fund raising to accounting
- HR – Recruitment to ensuring your team is happy
- Legal – From terms and conditions to partner and shareholder agreements
- Other – Anything else that does not fit into above 9 areas
Today, we are a team of 3. Two working on Product Development and me working on all 10 areas. You might think its crazy to break the business down to 10 areas when the team is so small. I do not find it overwhelming at all. Instead it focuses me to think how I could turn each one of the above area to a team.
Having acknowledged that we are searching for the Problem/Solution fit, from above 10 areas, I am focusing more on:
- Sales – As they say, Sales fix everything. We are hungry for early sales.
- Product – We have offerings around 2 CRMs, Salesforce and CapsuleCRM, and my team is continually building to improve what we have already and introduce new apps to work with these two CRMs.
- Marketing – Its no point just building products, if you don’t tell the prospective customers what you have, where they can find further information, how much it costs and how can they trial it.
- Finance – I’ve decided to explore the possibility of raising a seed round (hence saying Manchester isn’t quite London at the beginning).
Performance this Week
What’s different this week compared to the past is that I actually pitched for investment and feedback. I’ve certainly had great feedback which is already helping us to continually refine our model. Unfortunately, this had a slight hit on customer development. Team was also down by 1 this week due to illness, so the product development took a hit on progress. We’ve identified what role we need hiring next. Whilst it seems we have a mountain to climb, we nevertheless continue to push forward.
Have a great weekend and keep smiling.