As a startup founder I can speak from experience, where our startup was two years in when it was acquired was not what it had been when we has started it two years earlier, and that was perfectly fine. Even the smartest business leaders and entrepreneurs don’t have a crystal ball, you can’t see the future, you need to take you best guess, get started and then iterate, iterate, iterate.
For any founder, the best resource for building a world-class product or service is customer feedback. You need the practical, real-world experience with your new creation in the field, and then you need feedback. The first company I co-founded, Proximate, started off as an AI-powered CRM. We wanted to go head-to-head with the giants of the CRM industry, that didn’t last long. We quickly realized that people simply didn’t want to go to through the pain of changing CRMs.
From the feedback we gathered, we knew that people wanted to help streamline and drive efficiency for their sales team within their existing CRM. So next we turned to lead gen, it was a hot topic at the time, we thought we could capitalize. my goodness were we wrong, I hadn’t learned the blue ocean, red ocean test at the time (you can see our post about it here), but I wish I had. Lead gen was already such a crowded space we struggled to find customers who didn’t already have a solution in place or VCs who were willing to take a bet in an already crowded space.
This was about 10-12 months into our journey and we pivoted to “Opportunity Scoring”, helping provide insight to deals at the bottom of the funnel that a BDR or AE was actively engaged with and trying to close. What we had discovered through the first two iterations and all the feedback was that business and their sales teams were looking for a solution to help optimize the bottom of their sales funnel. So much focus had been on the top of the funnel that their reps were full of leads, but struggled to differentiate them. We had found our niche, and iteration got us there.
For any startup iteration is your key to success. Would you believe me if I told you that industry leading CRM HubSpot started off as a photo-sharing app? It’s true, and through iteration, HubSpot is a $13B publicly traded CRM software provider. Don’t be afraid to get an idea down, got to market, and let your customers tell you what they like and dislike, then iterate, refine and enhance. It’s a recipe for success.