Feb 25 - 4min readNavigating Your Startup: Looking Back To Launch Your Product ForwardBy Jennifer Green
Founders and investors, we are talking to you this week.
At Borne, we have found that understanding a founder’s journey through three specific lenses: Projection, Planning and Proof, can help businesses better evaluate the shaky ground of ‘market problems’ which are available to navigate and disrupt.
There are a few key points to help you successfully plot your course forward if you are a founder or investor trying to launch a product into an uncertain market sector, particularly in these uncertain times where the pandemic continues to be a part of our everyday lives. This is why startup evaluation often revolves around incorporating and using future-facing concepts. Let’s be real here, for both parties, this often can feel like a ‘finger in the air’ exercise at the best of times. A planning and strategic framework can just be used long enough in order to create and gain enough comfort to cross the line, move forward and pivot as adjustments are needed as events invariably change on the ground.
Instead of looking forwards, we should potentially need to look back more frequently. By looking back, we can get a better understanding and appreciation of the founder’s journey. Not just how they may have gotten from A to B to their pitch deck, but also looking at the consistent patterns of behaviour, exploration and also mistakes that are made that have informed how they arrive at a point where they want to tackle an uncertain market problem and navigate those risks.
Our team has taken this approach when founders have approached Borne to build their solution-solving product. We have noticed patterns of founders that have a nuanced and ongoing journey into their market sector, they may notice similar signs and patterns. It is these signs that enable both founders and investors to better assess whether the timing is right to venture further and essentially invest in each other before they approach our team to build the product.
Here are some tools that we have found useful over the years to help you with looking backwards to evaluate your product approach:
When we talk about founders, more often than not we are discussing how they are disrupting the present. Almost every pitch deck in the last 5-10 years has featured speculation, commentary and projection on how their startup will disrupt their sector in the next 2-3 years on average. However, a new key element post-Covid has been added to the mix i.e. ‘the uncertain future.’ The only thing that is now certain is the uncertainty and this has to be factored in moving forward when investing in your product pitch. This could lead to a form of paralysis between founders and investors as they try to understand and navigate this new terrain into their evaluation.
Introducing a new horizon around the concept of ‘almost now’ can be useful in navigating the fear f the unknown. This concept becomes like a whitespace of the horizon that can be projected onto and forecasted into that it is suspended between the disrupted present and uncertain future. It is essentially saying this is the horizon that you can now explore and evaluate with the understanding that it will be infected and affected by changes in the market conditions. It is interesting to note that it is the founders whose journey opens up a unique path in building products that dive into the ‘almost now’ space who find themselves most comfortable working and operating in this liminal space. For investors, this should be a green flag if a founder can behave in this way shows that they are likely to be more adept and agile to work with when going forward.
Any founder that has a journey that justifies them launching into a disrupted market sector can start to demonstrate and embody an understanding around a new framework that planes the navigation of uncertainty as the key new function that informs future planning and strategy. Like with projection, founders with a deeper journey and understanding will be more comfortable incorporating new functions into your plans and pitches. Equally, founders without this journey will find this uncomfortable and could demonstrate signs that you only look forward through traditional planning and strategy insights.
This new framework is emerging and impacting across all businesses and represents a real competitive opportunity for those startups and businesses that are ready and agile enough to organise and execute in this way.
Finally, there are a couple of questions that as a founder, you should be ready for and as an investor, you can ask instead of things that would represent a traditional elevator pitch. Questions that quickly provide and demonstrate proof that a founder’s journey might currently have relevancy, Currency and influence over their market sector.
Right at this moment, could you text someone that is recognised as having authority over the market sector you are looking to launch into that would:
1.Immediately consider your question
2.Likely to respond to you with their insight and input within the next 24 hours?
Which conversation in your inbox represents an ongoing dialogue with someone of influence that if it comes to a head, could add immediate acceleration to your strategy?
These tips that we have given you this week are just some of the initial ways to try and reveal insight into what you as a founder might gain by re-assessing and looking backwards as opposed to consistently looking to yourself as a blank slate and asking yourself about future projections when both parties may be using guesstimates. By being aware that as a founder, there is often unexplored territory in your journey and you can implement these simple lenses to can navigate uncertain times. You can start better identifying and crossing the threshold into the unknown of the next stage of your venture.
Looking to cross that threshold and dive into building your product? Get in touch to let us help you navigate your digital product launch to success.