Focus as a Startup
This week I went to check out a startup that wants me to lead their product team. The company is pre-Seed, 2 team members, the CEO, and the COO, and they outsourced all the engineering team.
One of them is really well known around London, meaning has a lot of contacts and has a foot inside big retailers, airlines, etc.
Two super smart lads, the challenge is the structure of the company and the focus. Without launching, or talking to customers, they have 5 products from B2C, & B2B.
They have a Payment processor, payment gateway, a personal finance app, Business app, and an FX platform.
That’s a lot. Each product requires a go-to-market strategy, sales, support, and then engineering resources to make it better plus requirements by each stakeholder.
A new Product is a new World.
Asking the questions.
Me: what’s the company’s vision?
They: “We want to become like Revolut, an app that helps manage your money better used by a lot of consumers so we can use data to give better financial products.”
Me: “Ok… so if the game is consumer why you have 5 products?!”
In a crowded industry like Fintech, in a crowded market like the UK there’s a shared leaderboard by Monzo, Revolut and Starling/Tandem/Monese.
The value proposition and the lack of focus of such will never get you to win. In the Startup game, is about focus, focus on fixing 1 problem in an amazing way, on one user segment/persona. That’s it.
They said they were doing everything to test and see what sticks, have some validation, and then increase the valuation.
It goes more like if we make a sale to three big accounts let’s say $1M each, then we can fundraise, and say we are transacting $3M plus all the technology.
Valuation: is the current value of your company proving the ability to accrue value over time.
So it's quite simple to be valuable you must have more strengths than weaknesses in a compounding manner.
I told them the game is about solving a problem by working with your strengths, tackle a less crowded market with a big market share to gain an advantage.
Also, consumer is expensive, businesses have no problem to pay for a painkiller.
Me: “ why you don’t pick one area, let’s say: an API and wrap everything under Payments, meaning payment gateway and payment processor, go out and sale. At least you are focusing on one product that helps one vertical, instead of mixing b2b, b2c, and such.”
They disagreed — “Why should we do only one thing if we have all these products?”
There’s a company in the US call PLAID, what do they do?
“The easiest way for users to connect their bank accounts to an app”
That’s it, they help users connect their bank accounts to apps.
Me: “Did you know that Plaid has a $2.65B valuation, just in the US, focusing on one single thing? Even if you focus on an API in the UK, you have TrueLayer with over $11M raised, plus 30 people working on one only thing.
How are we going to overcome that?
Launching a new product looks easy, like thinking you want another dog:Why not? They are fun, cute and exciting.
If one is challenging, imagine 5.
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