Hello Startup World — Take a Seat, Enjoy the Ride

I’m am starting out on a new blogging journey here on Medium and thought I would use my first post to outline what it is I am going to be talking about and introduce you to my three legged stool for Hyper Growth.

A bit about me first. I eat, drink and dream entrepreneurship, innovation and strategy. I have spent the last 13 years helping startups, SME’s and large companies apply market research methods to gain strategic insight for design, marketing and innovation, gaining deep expertise in market sizing and needs based segmentation. In that time, I have also started three of my own companies, been an avid investor in UK property and most recently, micro investing in several high-tech companies in the UK.

I’m going to be, well, getting a few things off my mind and maybe at the same time giving you something to think about.

Things like …‘de-risking product-market fit’, ‘disruptive business models’, ‘market segmentation’ and pretty much anything relating to startup strategy.

I love radical change and my drive is to accelerate radical change. But as anyone that is trying to make change happen knows, change is hard. Very hard. And over the years I have come to realise that I am much more suited to standing back to see the bigger picture and be better positioned to help others build and validate their strategies for radical change.

When exploring new markets, I cannot emphasise enough that I strongly advocate a market first approach, rather than a technology first approach. This is not to say technology first is wrong it is just more likely fail due to lack of market. I believe ‘solution bias’ is the big problem affecting the tech startup world and, in my opinion, it has to overcome this in order to become really effective at disrupting markets and growing more great companies faster.

So, to help me build a tangible, accessible story, I am going to be documenting my work with startup Founders over the coming months as I help them to tweak, validate and, where required reframe, their start-up strategy and help them move towards their ambitions for Hyper Growth.

My primary focus of attention are those of you who are Early Stage Founders, Seed and Series A Funded Startups. I am hoping to provide insights that can help you re-frame and segment markets with a new kind of precision, helping you to build a solid, robust market opportunity case.

I am going to be sharing my framework — a structured roadmapping approach that combines tools and methods that will demystify ‘new markets’ and create the strong foundations required for successful go-to-market strategies to achieve Hyper Growth.

So if any of this float your boat, stay tuned as I am going to be sharing lots practical, actionable insights over the coming months and hopefully, if I manage to hold your attention, many years.

Managing Market Complexity

At its simplest level, my journey is going be about exploring the three legged stool for Hyper Growth. Most of my posts, at least initially, will be have a particular emphasis on the middle leg, the market. The market is the most stable of the three legs, but ironically it is the leg most likely to cause a startup to fail. This is mainly because we fail to manage its complexity.

The complexity of the market, if not managed, makes building a product for an entirely new market extremely difficult, luck often springs to mind. Finding a viable, high growth new market opportunity is a big enough challenge in itself never mind then having to build an amazing product that perfectly aligns to the market needs with minimal resources.

Considering the high failure of startups it can be argued that most $100million + new market successes are achieved more by luck than judgment (and of course sheer persistence). We need to enable data driven judgments to play a bigger role than luck if we are going to succeed with our radical change projects. We need repeatability not luck.

With this post I am sending out a call for ‘Lean Startups’ to manage market complexity that they believe are important to them. In future posts I am going to explore and share how you can start to achieve this.

My belief is that, to truly enable disruptive change, we need to figure out how to ‘systematically de-risk new markets’ rather than be reliant on excessive iterations and pivoting to find market opportunities worth exploring. Surely we need a different approach?

So my initial objective is to strengthen the market leg of the three legged stool, to:

Transform how Founders define and validate a new market vision (or equally how Angels and VCs conduct due diligence on a market vision that they’re presented with) with sufficient granularity to enable an actionable roadmap to product-market fit and beyond.

I am going to be asking probing questions of how startups envision new markets and by testing methods out in the field with real startups to strengthen real three legged stools, with particular emphasis on the market.

As Marc Andreessen famously said, ‘The #1 company-killer is lack of market.’ How can you make sure that the market leg of your three legged stool will not let you down?

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