The first 100 days of your startup: advice to founders from Founders Factory
We were recently asked by Tech World for our thoughts on ‘the first 100 days in a startup; what is the best advice you could give to founders?’ Whilst David Hickson, our head of corporate development, was featured in the article , other members of our operations team wanted to share their words of wisdom too.
Phillip Caudell, Product Lead:
“Rapidly prototype and get your product in front of users! Don’t worry about perfection — it will never be perfect. So many founders think they need to build hype around a product and then do a big unveil but if you’re building something in isolation, you’ll end up building a product for you, not your end user.”
Paul Egan, Chief Technology Officer:
“Understand the space you’re working in first, don’t start building until then. This advice comes from 20 years’ experience. You need to understand the customer and the problem you’re trying to solve before you start. Whilst The Lean Startup tells us to ‘build, measure, learn’ it’s important that you can empathise with your customer, or reach the ‘customer discovery stage’ as it’s known, before you start to build your product.”
Farah Kanji, Head of Recruitment:
“I have a few tips: hire good people that you want to spend your time with — at times it’s going to get tough. Treat recruitment like marketing. Forget hiring fees with recruitment agencies, just spend that money on a meet-up. Host an event and get people in your office. Also employ a ‘magnet hire’ someone with an established network to then attract other high quality candidates who will want to join them. And if you can, recruit from your direct competitors. Assuming you’re doing something cool, they are super knowledgeable in your sector and might want a new challenge.”
Lee Bernasconi, Growth Lead:
“Develop a deep understanding of your customers and how your product solves their problems. Create concrete, meaningful goals and reverse engineer your route to achieve them — doing so forces you to optimise for impact and focus only on the activities that really matter. It’s critical to have an understanding of how people use your product or how effectively your campaigns perform, so startups should implement a robust tracking framework from the outset.
“Then it’s time to get to work: rapidly test assumptions — such as your proposition, market segments, channels and pricing — and use these learnings to iterate and propel you forward. Double down on what works and eliminate efforts that aren’t generating results. There are no silver bullets, but a little creativity can go a long way.”
Legal/ Investor Relations
David Hickson, Head of Corporate Development:
“For tech startup founders pursuing the typical venture-backed route, there are some crucial elements to consider at the beginning.
“Venture investors typically are looking for exciting & innovative opportunities that have the right (usually tech-based) components to scale quickly into a big addressable market; possibly the most important component is the conviction/profile of the founder team. They have to convince that there is something precisely about them, be it their knowledge, their passion and/or their technology that gives them a differentiated and compelling opportunity to deliver on the promise. We call this process the founder teams demonstrating that they are the ‘Custodians of the Magic’.
“The founding team should have considered what these might be and craft a 10–15 slide well-researched and well put-together presentation (in powerpoint style) that tells the story as a narrative arc through problem, solution, product, size of opportunity, go-to-market & demographic, how it differentiates from the competition, how it create a sustainable competitive advantage vs. the competition & new entrants, and which informs (and is informed by) the financial plan, the use of raise funds and the unit economics.”