Our Journey & Philosophy

The pilgrimage to entrepreneurial stardom

Like any startup, we too pivoted a few times during the past 18 months. Not so much our vision but mostly our approach and execution. This post is about the lessons that helped us shape our philosophy.

Lesson #1 — Hands-on

For a startup to have even a remote chance of success, you must be hands-on. You must be a part of everything from strategy, execution, finance to product/market fit. And these cannot be delivered in once a month, one-hour mentoring sessions. If you’re going to get your hands burned, best you get your hands dirty! Entrepreneurs need mentors who can help fill the gaps, not point them out.

Lesson #2 — Fundraising takes time

Irrespective of the amount, fundraising takes a long time. Especially if you’re first time raising funds or it’s your first startup. In most situations, a pitch deck alone isn’t going to convince investors to write cheques. Fundraising is an ongoing process that involves building a relationship with strategic investors. In this regard, having a financial model which provides a method to the madness, adds a lot of value. This helps both investors as well as the founders to understand the business.

Lesson #3 — You bet on founders

Startups are about the founders. Hence, you need to spend more time understanding them. A great team can breathe life into a dying idea while a shitty team can kill a brilliant one. It’s easy to get carried away or put-off when you hear an idea without understanding the ideation process. So we look for R.I.C.H founders! No… not the💰 or 🤑 kind!

Resilience, Integrity, Commitment & Honesty.

These lessons have shaped our understanding, journey and philosophy. We now have a better understanding of the kind of support, early-stage startups need. Considering all these insights, we decided to help founders become investor ready. This is a 3 to 4-month engagement where we become part of the team. We spend time understanding the team and product/market fit. We would draw execution strategies and scope-out product development and roll-outs.

Once they’re ready, we work on the financial model. Founders have a sheet which captures all the assumptions that drive the business. These are unique and will differ from startup to startup. Subsequently, we work on identifying expenses, opportunity, revenue potential. We would also include P&L, Balance Sheet, Cash Flows and finally the valuation. These documents help us build a conversation with potential investors.

Sample Financial Model

Our Model

Early-stage startups come in different forms. Through our interactions, we were able to build a grid which helped us map each startup. We, however, do not include idea or concept stage startups within this grid.

Startup Grid

The startups’ stage is depicted by the x-axis. The pre-revenue stage is when you are ready to carry out customer discovery and validation. A startup that is in the post-revenue stage is capable of carrying out customer creation & building. This is in-line with Steve Blanks, Customer Development Model.

Steve Blank’s Customer Development Model

The type of work and the amount of effort in each stage differs. We recommend founders avoid raising external funding to build their Minimum Viable Product. If you require funding to develop your MVP, it usually means one or more of three things;

  • You’re not ready to be a full-time entrepreneur
  • You don’t have a technical co-founder
  • You haven’t identified the right MVP

Our Philosophy

We embrace the chaos and excitement that surrounds early-stage startups. Our aim is to be humble, friendly & hands-on. We look to guide and support startups emerging from all parts of the island.

Everything we do is aimed at fueling the future. We are a beacon for aspiring entrepreneurs tackling local and global challenges. We intend to make fundraising more accessible, strategic and less painful.

If you need any further information about our work, let’s schedule some time! Drop an email to info@crowdisland.lk