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20 questions for Startup Success – samw3



Posts: 542
From: Toccoa, GA, USA
Registered: 08-15-2006
Hello All,

I stumbled upon this video the other day. I think it was very informative and would recommend a watch. Below are the notes I gleaned from it. Just thought I would share.

General (Big) Business Goals:
$50 mil in 3 years
20% annual revenue growth
>20% operating profit (all income - all expenses)

Venture Capitalist expectations:
a) Higher than normal returns
b) through some liquidity event
c) in shortest amount of time
w/ a VC its easy to get $, hard to be successful

20 questions for Startup Success
1. What problem does this product solve?

2. How does it solve that problem.
Most people solve 90% of the problem. Solve 100% of all the problems. Don't fool yourself that you are there when you are only 90% there. Lookout for denial mode.

3. Who are the end users of the product?
Individuals? Companies? Is it the same as the person you are selling it to? Focus groups produce narrow answers. Instead observe inefficiencies and do things perhaps in a new way people don't think of.
Is there a large addressable market of actual users?
M-d : Big market(lots of customers), small dollars(cost of product)
m-D : Little market, big dollars

4. Who is your revenue-supplying customer? (Paying customers)

Are there enough of these paying customers to make a huge business?
Make sure you satisfy both the buyers and users.
Sometimes the buyers are not the users. Take Google. The users use the service for free, and businesses buy ads

5. Does the product solve a problem that end-users/revenue supplying customers actually have?

3D malls.. why do people want to walk to the other end virtually when you can click an 'teleport'

6. Are you sure it is a product and not just a "feature"?

(fictional) - trying to sell a "product" that italicizes text.

7. Does you stuff fit into the way that people work (or live)?
Or are you relying too much on people changing the way they work because your stuff is so great?

Inertia is a big force.

8. Are you too involved in HOW you are building than what you are building?

Technology techniques should not overtake goals of the project/company business. Base it on end user needs.

9. Who are the potential partners?

Who are the required partners?

are they achievable/acquirable?
prioritize what partners are needed for success?
Don't major in minors.

10. What is the go-to-market strategy?
Who has lots of money? Banks, Drug Co.s, Lawyers
Target the largest most lucrative vertical market.
This can also be the most active market. (esp. for consumable products)

11. What is your *sustainable* competitive advantage?
Something special? Algorithmically, Technically
or perhaps something no one else wants to touch.

Do you have it? Can you keep it?

12. Do you have a time-to-market/first mover advantage?
Are you ahead of the pack and can you stay there?
Are you too early?
Are you too late in the game? Normally there is a top 3.
Work on things about 9 months before things hit escape velocity
Try to spot trends.

13. Can I be number one or number 2 in this space?
Who is the competition?
Assume that the competition has people who are smarter/better than you.

14. Is there a team formed with a record of successful ventures?
Have they done something like this before?

15. Is there a 'soul' of the team that knows where this product AND where the business is going for the next few years?

16. Is anyone on the team insane?
Are the members of the team totally passionate & aligned on this business? Or are some unfocused, fighting, not finishing work. get rid of them.

17. Are there product/tech/operations barriers to success?
If yes, can they be overcome?

18. Are there marketing/sales barriers to success?
If yes, can they be overcome?

19. Are there legal barriers?
If yes, can they be overcome?

20. Is there an exit strategy?
(IPO or enough possible acquisition candidates to make acquisition a slam dunk)

Sam Washburn

[This message has been edited by samw3 (edited March 09, 2007).]



Posts: 742
From: Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada
Registered: 01-20-2001
Hey Samw3,

Thanks for passing on the link, and especially for taking the time to share your notes! This is great stuff, and I really appreciate you passing on this great info.


"OOP programmers have a lot of class"

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