This article is written by Taylor Wescoatt, Expert in Residence at Seedcamp. Taylor’s background spans 20 years of Product and UX having held key positions at successful startups like Seatwave and CitySearch, and larger brands like eBay and Time Out. This is the accompanying summary of two articles on Roadmaps for Startups; The Vision Roadmap for Startups, and The Behavioural Roadmap for Startups.
Congratulations! You’re starting a business, you’ve got a great vision, and a bit of traction. You’re growing, there are a million things to do. How do you decide what to focus on first? Everyone’s asking for different things. You need a Roadmap.
Typically Roadmaps are typically gantt-chart style diagrams of ‘what we’re going to build’. I’ve put together a lot of these “Feature-led Roadmaps”, and while the final product of long labour is usually appreciated, its pretty much out of date the moment it’s printed. This is confusing for everyone. Features are simply an abstraction between the Business and the needs of your User.
In this series I share a model of roadmapping for Startups specifically. The goal is to get everyone aligned on what is being built and why.
We begin with translating your Vision into a Vision Roadmap full of staged Propositions, or ‘how a segment sees your brand at a given time’.
Each Proposition can then be translated into a full User Journey of Behaviours necessary to achieve that Proposition. Focusing on key Behaviours and only then starting to brainstorm features leads to a far more aligned, well thought through, and persistent plan that a startup can go build Minimum Viable Product tests against in order to validate your thinking and drive your business forward.
If you use these techniques, you’ll find as most startups do that you’ve got a renewed, refined, more accessible plan for delivering your vision.
Building a strong team early in your company’s life-cycle is one of the key attributes that pre-disposes your company to success and to gathering investor interest.
In this presentation, Seedcamp Partner Carlos Espinal covers some of the attributes that makes an A-Team compelling.
Here are the slides that accompanied Carlos’ presentation…
This article was first presented at Google Campus July 11th 2014 and appears on Netocratic.
Fundraising isn’t easy, even if done well, its fraught with all sorts of ambiguity and frustrations. To that very point, I recently wrote a blog post about the fundraising mindset in order to help you set a tone on approaching the process.
That said, there are things you can do to make it go better than others and things you can do to make it go worse… and in the spirit of the ‘Tonight Show’s’ top ten list, below are my top ten things that will likely cause a fundraising fail situation.
Avoid them and learn from your mistakes and you will increase your likelihood of success.
Yes, being over the top and dropping ‘f bombs’ might get you attention, but is it the right attention? Is it focusing the attention on what your message or just you? Also, what about a boring slide deck? Or a a deck that is missing product shots? Do these represent you well? What if you say your product is simple, but then your deck is really over complicated.. does that sound right?
Fundraising requires research. Find out if your potential investors are even interested in your sector.. have they invested in your competitor? What amount do they typically invest in? Going to someone that is a late stage investor when you are raising a little bit of money is like putting in a minimum order of 10 pizzas when you can only eat one.
When presenting or speaking about your customer, do you show a mastery about their issues? Do you understand what makes them tick and why your solution is the one that will likely best serve their needs? Do you also understand how to reach them? Where do they shop? What media do they consume?
It is always tempting to create something that is useful to you, but is the solution you’ve created really a necessity or just a nice-to-have? Demonstrating a real pain, usually through some form ofcustomer validation, is crucial in making a convincing argument for your startup.
One of the things you can do to quickly show that you don’t have a full grasp of your market is byshowing a much larger segment than the one you operate in. For example, I’ve seen pitches where an iOS app that is for sports tracking, mentions all mobile users worldwide as their market size… when actually, its more like mobile-sports-tracking-enthusiasts, which is a sub-segment of that bigger pie.
This one is easy. If you think you don’t have competitors, then you probably haven’t researched hard enough. Rarely are there ideas that no one has thought about, but secondly and perhaps more importantly, sometimes there are substitutes which are ‘good enough’ which you need to be aware of and show how your solution overcomes the momentum that those existing solutions already have.
If you’re going fundraising and you don’t know how much money you need, how long it will take you, to achieve what, and how you will spend it… well, then don’t fault investors if they aren’t impressed with your request for investment.
Your team is 99% the reason why your company succeeds, and the idea is probably like 1% (I’m guessing on the numbers, but this guess feels right). If you skim through the ‘why’ of why your team is the right one for this investment, then you’ll likely miss an opportunity to impress an investor. I recently wrote a blog post about how to best think through your team slide here. Also, if you want to learn about how an investor evaluates your team, read this one.
Toxic rounds that precede the round you are raising for can really negatively affect your fundraising plan. Read about why here. In general, try and make sure that you take investments that don’t jeopardize your future ability to raise follow-on funds.
Lastly, the best thing you can do for yourself is get an introduction to investors that you want to meet. Introductions are great ways to have immediate validation. Here are some other ideas on how to reach out to other investors.
– Bonus – Not learning from your mistakes
Learn from your mistakes. You will make many, and that’s OK, so long as you don’t beat yourself up, understand what went wrong, and then iterate on it. In the words of Einstein – “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
Below is the slide deck that I used to present at Google Campus’s Fundraising Day.
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