Founder Spotlight: Michael & Mathew (Slickspaces) – Revolutionizing Rental Space One Community at a Time

Founder Spotlight: Michael & Mathew (Slickspaces) – Revolutionizing Rental Space One Community at a Time

I had the great pleasure of spending time with Slickspaces in Vancouver. Both the team and the business illuminated as community business leaders of tomorrow.

Michael Driedger, CEO & Co Founder of Slickspaces

Michael Driedger, CEO & Co Founder of Slickspaces

Founders, Michael and Mathew, came together to join forces on 1 mission: to revolutionize the guest services space in a unique way. Michael (CEO) sprouted as a serial entrepreneur since the age of 10. Learning key operations from his past businesses paved the way to success for Slickspaces from Day 1. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Driedger, CEO & Co Founder of Slickspaces

Michael Driedger, CEO & Co Founder of Slickspaces

Mathew, Chief Technology Officer, leads the product and is equally strong in software and hardware. I had the opportunity to sit down with each of them to discuss their different takes on entrepreneurship today and what tips they would give others who are starting out.

Go grab your coffee and check out their live interviews.

 

 

 


“Coachability, an ability to learn on the fly and perseverance are key traits of great entrepreneurs. Matt has them all plus  a deep knowledge of trends in the short term rental market. ”

Clay Braziller, Advisor

About Slickspaces:

“Travel, sustainability and technology had a baby” — Slickspaces.com

SlickSpaces’ founders were both working towards a separate yet shared vision. To make travel accommodations easier to get into (they hate lines and looking for keys) and more sustainable (they really hate wasting energy). With backgrounds in building sustainability and technology integration they’ve created something that fulfils both of their dreams.

Slickspaces

Slickspaces

“Well positioned for success in the mushrooming short-term rental industry, Michael and his fellow founders have already distinguished Slickspaces by developing a paradigm-shifting solution to a critical challenge through their ability to listen to and follow his customer’s needs.” — David Dunnison, President & CEO at Global PVQ Canada, Harvard Business School.

About the team and environment:

When I arrived at their Vancouver headquarter, I noticed they had the opportunity to be surrounded by other community supporters such as BC Tech. Slickspaces won this great office space in a previous competition. One thing that I noticed about Slickspaces is their growing team and many moving parts. Slickspaces deal with both hardware and software. Because I got to walk into such a dynamic environment, I did a series of insightful interviews with the Founders that can be found here!

Click here for video

“Michael has a very clear vision on how technology will solve some fundamental pain points in the short term accommodation market. Michael possesses a combination of both industry and market knowledge and technical savvy that’s been key in Slickspace’s early development and market intro. It’s impressive to see the customer engagement the team have made in such a short period of time.” -Andy Edelmeier, President of Braemar West Capital

What does this company’s typical day look like:

Slickspaces’ scores on VenturX’s Entrepreneurship Tool

Slickspaces’ scores on VenturX’s Entrepreneurship Tool

Mornings:

· Gets to work at 6am

· Operational: Team meetings to discuss specific objectives such as contracts & upgrading to powerful accounting/CRM/etc.. software tools.

· Product: Focus product direction on scalability and channel distribution for Slickspaces’ future. This was handled by the CTO.

· Other: Work on tasks for the competition

Afternoons:

· Operational: Work on new community grants for their stage

· Other: Meetings with mentors to review upcoming presentation, business analytics, and content.

Evenings:

· Operational: Share feedback from individual meetings, discuss upcoming tasks for new hires.

Next Milestone

Bringing disruptive global innovation one community at a time has shone the spotlight onto Slickspaces.

Slickspaces just entered the BC New Ventures competition 2017, a 13 week competition. Their beta is making impressive footprints within the short term rental industry across North America. If you are in property management, be sure to keep updated on their leaps of achievements via their social media: Twitter and Facebook. Their direct contacts are listed below.

In conclusion, after spending time with this energetic team, it was clear that Canadian companies like this can achieve greatness by doing good.

Contact info: Michael Driedger and Mathew Hunter

Email: info@slickspaces.com

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-driedger-06363a13/ and https://www.linkedin.com/in/mathewhunter/

Website: https://www.slickspaces.com/

Share this:
Posted by VenturX in Blog, 0 comments
Founder Spotlight: Jennifer Chan (Preview Careers) – #1 Career Platform for Students

Founder Spotlight: Jennifer Chan (Preview Careers) – #1 Career Platform for Students

This week, I had the lucky opportunity to follow and engage with a Vancouver-based entrepreneur who is a true Lead by Example type! Jennifer Chan, Co-Founder of Preview Careers opens the door into her startup world!

Jennifer Chan, Entrepreneur, Co-Founder of Preview Careers

Jennifer Chan, Entrepreneur, Co-Founder of Preview Careers

I knew that this startup was definitely someone to watch out for when she scored over 140+ personal customer discovery interviews in a matter of DAYS with just 3 people hustling like warriors; these are results that other entrepreneurs take a year to accomplish. Preview Careers’ passion is predicated by their actions and their impact. There is no doubt Jennifer Chan was the perfect choice to highlight as someone who truly stands out! Not only did we get to see the next big thing being built, but we also got a lot of great startup tips from Jennifer Chan that you can check out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmpTxB8ZsSg&list=PLCZnT5ANSu9ZxOGg-dcyc9sqYXFWaw7eC

Preview Careers is the second product to come out of Appfabriqa, the parent company. Being education focused, Preview Careers took their mission back on campus. Jennifer took the bright initiative to personally survey students on campus one on one to understand their pain points when it comes to careers. She quickly built out a sign up page on Wix and starting building out features that the users wanted.

Jennifer’s customer-focused attitude is something that came from her previous startup experience and drove much of how the startup was run. It was a major influence on hiring decisions, product features, task management, etc..

What does a typical week look like for this founder?

She works from 9am-9pm consistently. (It’s pretty impressive!)

Preview Careers’ scores on VenturX’s Entrepreneurship Tool

Preview Careers’ scores on VenturX’s Entrepreneurship Tool

Mornings:

· Starts work at 9AM

· Design creative assets for marketing content in order to acquire new student users

· Send emails and update her team

Afternoons:

· Track user sign ups and send them over to product manager

· Customer research via online forums, social media, feedback from users to further identify the pain points and analyze in depth research of this market

· Attend afternoon meetings: check out new office space, interview new brand ambassador for student user recruiting at UBC, etc..

· Film mentor videos for website all around Vancouver

Evenings:

· Review marketing content from Marketing Intern

· 9PM meetings with her international team

What is Preview Careers?

The PREVIEW mission is to help driven, ambitious, young people explore and discover which career paths will lead them to doing work they love. PREVIEW believes that one of the key ways to exploring the career opportunities that exist, understanding the competitive landscape of the job market, and knowing the nuances of specific roles/titles is through connecting with mentors/advisors that can share their experiences, insight, and wisdom.

www.previewcareers.com

www.previewcareers.com

What is the next big milestone?

The next milestone is preparing for Back to School! If you are a university student in Vancouver, check out Preview’s student activities and giveaways on campus coming September 2017! Don’t miss out! Sign up today at www.previewcareers.com!

Get connected to your next mentor!

Preview Mentors

Preview Mentors

That is all for today! If you are a student or mentor and have questions for Preview Careers, we added her contact info at the bottom!

Contact info: Jennifer Chan

Email: Jennifer@appfabriqa.com

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenchanbarnes/

Website: https://www.previewcareers.com

Share this:
Posted by VenturX in Founder Spotlight, 0 comments
Success Doesn’t Just Happen, It’s Planned For!

Success Doesn’t Just Happen, It’s Planned For!

Success Doesn’t Just Happen, It’s Planned For!

Startups plan and plan and plan…but where does it all go?

We wanted to find out how many startups like to draw out plans so we sent out a survey across Canada and the US to 175 startups. A whopping 68% of startups still like to use Post Its and visually draw it out. Nowadays, we have so many amazing business tool that we can use to make sure that your plan is:

  1. Improving your metrics (ie. conversion, engagement, etc..)
  2. Thorough (so not a single note gets lost)
  3. Visual (65% of people are visual learners according to Forbes Magazine Article — https://www.forbes.com/sites/tjmccue/2013/01/08/what-is-an-infographic-and-ways-to-make-it-go-viral/#6452cd047272)

So check out how your startup is planning for your success!

Old and New Ways to Build Your Strategic Plan

Old and New Ways to Build Your Strategic Plan

For more ways to make sure you are planning SMART, check out this great read: http://blog.venturx.ca/2017/08/23/smart-startup-goals/

Thanks for reading!  If you enjoyed this article,

Say Hello On: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Youtube | LinkedIn

Share this:
Posted by VenturX in Blog, 0 comments
4 Reasons Why Startups Should Take Advantage of Business Intelligence

4 Reasons Why Startups Should Take Advantage of Business Intelligence

What is Business Intelligence?

Since starting my customer discovery, I have noticed that a lot of startups do not track their metrics. I don’t just mean the metrics that VenturX focuses on (Product Market Fit, Real-time Runway, Conversion, and Engagement); I mean most startups do not look at any metrics on a weekly basis. At first, I thought it was because some people may be less analytical types than others. But one day, a startup finally told me the answer.

I don’t have enough data to track! [It is not reflective of my business.]” — Local Montreal Startup

What do we mean by data?

Data is a collection of facts and quantities used for analysis. In this case, we mean tracking your customer interviews and meetings, revenues and expenses, industry metrics, how many customers signed up this week, how many customers are retained, etc.. All data is good data as long as it is tracked accurately and updated regularly. Business intelligence is the process of analyzing data to make business decisions. 

1. I don’t have enough data to input!

Quality over quantity. Keep in mind that 2 early adopters who love your product is far better than 100 surveyed people who are only so-so about it. Those 2 that really felt the problem your startup is trying to solve should definitely be tracked.

What to do next: Investors want to see how much you have evolved over time. Tracking early is the only way to show improvement!

2. I am too busy to input my data

Time is Money! If you don’t start tracking from the very beginning, you might end up losing running into dead ends without even knowing it!

What to do next: Spend 10 mins/day to track your data with VenturX and save yourself months of pursuing the wrong path. Almost all startups who ignore data tracking don’t see how much time is wasted. It is just a way for founders to be very conscious of where they invest their time and money.

Time is money

3. I won’t want investors to see my metrics

Investors do want to see that startups are using business tools to monitor their customers, finances, teams, and project. Not only do you need to have intimate knowledge about how well your startups is doing but you also have to be able to prove it. There is nothing better than seeing a visual of how your business is doing. Investors are keen on data driven results and decisions which is a great habit to form for all startups. Don’t worry if your progress at that stage looks bad, the improvement is the most important part. If you only track when you are rising, it doesn’t look like you improved by very much. You need to show how much you have learned.

“It is not about how much you fall, it is about how quickly you get back up.” — Barbara Cocoran

What to do next: Sign up today www.venturx.ca to get into the good graces of VenturX’s list of investors.

4. It is not reflective of my business

Business intelligence focuses on the business as a whole, not just one particular part. The business includes customers and users, finance, product,etc.. Some founders are technical product managers while others have team management skills. All founders need to be focused on the overall well being of the business, not just the parts they are comfortable with. This is a big reason why some founders feel discomfort when seeing that their metrics are low regarding some parts of their business. The good news is that modern business tools also come with hints on how to improve on weaker parts of the business!

VenturX Startup Dashboard with Hints

What to do next: Make sure to use a credible and well-rounded tool like VenturX to get the most benefit!

The bottom line is why wouldn’t startups want to use every resource in their toolbox including tracking their data to make smart decisions? Corporations have been using business intelligence with all their C-level executives forever so wouldn’t startups want to model after those best practices?

VenturX is a startup success tracker that focuses on early stage startups who want an operational view of their Product Market Fit, Conversion, Real-Time Runway, and Engagement. Its unique SMART scoring mechanism will provide hints and daily SMS notifications when you reach danger zones in your scores to help you quickly improve. As an added value, you can also submit your metrics and application directly to Seed and Series A investors on the platform with just one click! For more info, go to www.venturx.ca

Why Venturx? In comparison to corporate business tools that are not customized for startups, this is is only a fraction of the price. So this is a very affordable tool with credible value, real time metrics, and even connect to investors who favour analytics and metrics at the startup stage.

Share this:
Posted by VenturX in Blog, 0 comments
VenturX is for ALL early stages of Entrepreneurship

VenturX is for ALL early stages of Entrepreneurship

Did you know that 90% of startups fail in their first year? VenturX’s goal is to help early stage entrepreneurs beat the odds! VenturX uses benchmarks and metrics from granters and investors across Canada to help guide startups with a SaaS tool. There are different types of “Early Stage” Entrepreneurship broken down as follows. Let us show you how we can help!

 

1. How VenturX helps in the Idea Creation Stage:

Definition:

· You have thought of a name and what you want to build or maybe a couple of ideas of different potential startups

· You may have recruited interested co-founders

· You may even have business cards!

· You haven’t talked to potential customers in your target market and haven’t invested a lot of time and money yet.

Are you ready for VenturX? YES!

How VenturX can Help:

· VenturX can help you test out your early ideas! Check out this article for 4 MUST-DO steps while in the Idea Creation stage: https://medium.com/@VenturX_team/how-to-survey-for-product-market-fit-in-24-hours-2f79571ea5d4

2. How VenturX helps in the “Pre-Revenue” Stage

Definition:

· You are passionate about the idea and don’t know all the opportunities that are out there

· You don’t have any sales yet (sometimes said as no revenue yet)

· You might be busy building out your product or having a hard time finding those early adopters

Are you ready for VenturX? YES!

How VenturX can Help You Save Time:

· We help you prioritize which new features to build

· We track your early adopters’ pain points

· We free you up to work the other things on your plate!

· VenturX provides industry benchmarks to guide you along the path of success and increase your chances of earning trevenue!

3. How VenturX helps in the Funding Stage (Seed Round or Series A)

snoopy

Definition:

· You are trying to gain funding from investors

Are you ready for VenturX? YES!

VenturX Entrepreneur Dashboard gives real time Runway

How VenturX can Help:

· We calculate your runway time so you know how much money and time you have to get funding and make that first sale!

· Gives you benchmarks and requirements for funding to best prepare you for success for investor presentations

4. How VenturX helps in the Ramen Profit Stage

ramen profitDefinition:

· You make just enough money to eat Ramen Noodles every day

· Officially launched startup but want more customers

· Already have your early adopters on board

Are you ready for VenturX? YES!

How VenturX can Help:

· Score test results from your market for early majority customers

·After helping you identify early adopters, VenturX guides you to your next target. you don’t want to waste too much money investing in the wrong market. We are here to help!

5. How VenturX helps in the Late Funding Stage (Series B-D)

Product Adoption Lifecycle

Product Adoption Lifecycle

Definition:

· You have closed Series A and are looking into more funding

· You are focusing on your innovative R&D and scaling your growth

Are you ready for VenturX? YES

 

How VenturX can Help:

·You can still use VenturX to test out new product extensions to make sure you are not cannibalizing your own market

“The reality is the Lean Startup method is not about cost, it is about speed. Lean startups waste less money, because they don’t use a disciplined approach to testing new products and ideas.” — Eric Ries, American entrepreneur, blogger and author of The Lean Startup, a book on the lean startup movement.

Let VenturX help you accelerate your startup today. Sign up @ www.venturx.ca

Share this:
Posted by VenturX in Blog, 0 comments
Why every startups need metrics!

Why every startups need metrics!

In this article, we are taking a deep dive into why young companies should track their metrics right from the get go! Here are three reasons to start today!

Before we dive into the reasons why startups need to monitor their metrics, we must first take a look at a few misconceptions as to why early stage startups currently prioritize metrics.

Misconception #1: “I am not tech savvy enough to monitor my metrics!”

HBO’s Silicon Valley —Dashboard

Don’t be scared! You do not have to be super tech savvy to get your metrics!
Nowadays, there are many tracking tools that can help you clearly monitor your metrics whether you are an online or offline business. For examples of easy user dashboards, send us an email.

Misconception #2: I do not have enough data to even track them!

You have to start somewhere! Start at 0 users! Keep in mind that is the same starting point that Facebook, Google, Apple, and that hair salon down the street all started at! The important thing is to JUST DO IT! did you think they waited until they had 500 or 5 million users before they started to track their basic metrics? NO!

3 Reasons why startups need to start measuring their progress now!

1. Make your targets

Knowledge is power! Learning about your metrics can only help your team meet targeted quarterly or monthly goals. For a great example for early-stage startups, I refer you to the Lean Analytics book by Alistair Croll and Ben Yoskovitz. They created a great chart to show what lean metrics you show what to focus on depending on what stage you are at.

Lean Analytics Book: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster

Startups tend to focus on a lot of things that are not their short term targets. For a deeper dive, check out this article: https://medium.com/@VenturX_team/3-startup-mistakes-what-do-young-startups-focus-on-besides-their-metrics-9a59f17d84e8

2. Not waste time and money on the wrong things

Time is money! Key performance metrics (KPIs) may differ from department to department in big corporations. Early stage startups should see this as an advantage. When teams are small, everyone can just focus on one or two key metrics; they need to have that be the focus on where resources, time, and money is invested in. Once that goal is achieved, you can make another goal. That is exactly what metrics do. If you don’t have a particular goal in mind, tracking tools like VenturX can help by giving you industry benchmarks for early stage startups.

3. Helps prioritize your tasks — things that move the needle

When early stage startups go through the feedback cycle (build, test, analyze, and repeat), having your key metric(s) can help your team prioritize which task to focus on for the next product release or iteration.
For example, if your key metric is to increase engagement, then your team may want to prioritize the features that would keep your customers using the product for longer. You may also want to de-prioritize other features related to marketing channels and conversions.

Share this:
Posted by VenturX in Blog, 0 comments
What is the difference between VenturX and HockeyStick and LaunchPad?

What is the difference between VenturX and HockeyStick and LaunchPad?

VenturX is a startup success tool that tracks and benchmarks startups across all industries until they are ready to be connected to funding. VenturX leverages data to optimize the entrepreneurial journey.

We have made a helpful chart to help us demonstrate!

Share this:
Posted by VenturX in Blog, 0 comments
3 Startup Mistakes: What do young startups focus on besides their metrics?

3 Startup Mistakes: What do young startups focus on besides their metrics?

Early Stage Founders have a massive amount of things to do. As they progress in their startup, their days feel shorter and shorter. I found that a lot of them put a surprising amount of effort into things in the medium and long term instead of focusing on the now. When I ask them about what metrics they are currently looking at, what is important to them, etc.. it is surprising the range of answers they gave.

This article will go through some of the most common 3 examples of early stage startup mistakes and how focusing on their metrics can bring them back to reality. Keep in mind that we are just focusing on early stage startups who have recently started building their new business.

1) Not enough DOING!

People will always recommend you to read this startup book or learn the newest marketing tactics to “hack” your way to the top.
This is not to discourage you from learning but your experience through your actions will dictate how much you will learn more than any amount of reading can. Someone else’s best practice for marketing strategy, channel distribution, and business negotiation may not be yours. Since every business is so unique, you will never know what your best practice is until you go out there and try it out for your business.

“Ambition is predicated on your actions.” —Gary Vaynerchuk, Entrepreneur, Host of AskGaryVee Show

ACTION ITEM: Set aside one or two day as week to reading/researching/ etc.. and commit the other days to actually putting it into practice. (I can tell you from experience that if you are reading a startup book, you don’t have to finish the whole book to start practicing.)
I personally love learning about social media marketing, as it is an extension to my online marketing background. I usually take Saturdays to learn new things. To reach our target audience of startup companies, I actively try out every social channel to see where our audience is most engaged and active. I execute educational videos, live stream, and blogs on Youtube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and Medium. On a daily basis, I track to see which channels perform the best in order to decide where to invest our future marketing investment.

2) Focusing too far ahead

Founders are getting pulled in every direction these days due to many sources of influence whether that be from buzz going on at startup events, feedback from friends and family, or referrals to potential partnerships or “you know who would be great for you to talk to?” I bet you can think of some examples!

It is unwise to focus your energy on partnerships for medium-long term instead of focusing on upcoming pilot project or trial. Example: Don’t wait to hire the perfect person to help run your pilot project or beta test instead of dong it yourself. You can learn so much more from that experience.

I admit that for myself, I fell into spirals at times but one thing that kept me focused on which partnerships to pursue now, which recommendation to follow and where to allocate those precious 24 hours, were my Lean Analytics Metrics! (See diagram below.)

ACTION ITEM: Mark future tasks for 1–3 months from now. If you can quickly identify tasks or budding partnerships that should be implemented in a month then set that in your calendar to start 1 month from now. You don’t have to do everything at once and become overwhelmed because there are too many things in your plate. When these things start to pile on, a plate of opportunities can easily start to look like a plate of distractions. A practical thing to do is to pace yourself. If there is a new resource or future channel to explore, then put it off until you have completed what is important now such as making your first pilot project a huge success!

3) Avoiding Customers

“Sales cures all” — Mark Cuban, ABC’s Shark Tank, Investor, Entrepreneur

How can startups get that cure if their customers are not the forefront of their attention?

Avoiding customers can be classified into two ways:
a) Customer Discovery: Some early stage entrepreneurs go through cycles of procrastination before doing any kind of market research or product market fit surveying. Many first time startups will explain how they feel their product is not ready to show or they fear competition.

ACTION ITEM: To learn how to survey for product market fit in 24 hours, refer to this article: https://medium.com/@VenturX_team/how-to-survey-for-product-market-fit-in-24-hours-2f79571ea5d4
(It will guide you through all the basic steps with concrete examples.) If you want a template of survey questions, send me an email and I can send you one!

b) Ignore incoming customers to get product feedback and iterate
As human beings, we do things we want to do and not the things we are supposed to do. If it easier to for some to work creating a nice website rather than get feedback from their customers, you bet they will mainly put their efforts into option #1.

ACTION ITEM: Schedule appointments with your customers to get feedback on a regularly basis. Try to schedule them in advance. Even if you have new distractions such as startup events, hiring new team members, etc..you will ensure that your regular meetings will make sure that you are always in touch with your customers and you are not avoiding them.
To get startup feedback for VenturX’s product releases, I schedule Skype calls every 3 weeks with startup friends to show them the revamp and get their feedback. I also contact 1 startup about his VenturX Metrics every single afternoon between 2pm-4pm. He said he preferred SMS notifications. To show love, I send those individual daily reports from my phone.

What Metrics Should I Concentrate on?

That is a great question. One that I believe was well written in the book

“ Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster” — Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz

They explain that startups should focus on mainly one metric at a time and it would be dependent on your type of startup and what stage you are in. Here is a comprehensive chart from the book:

lean analytics

Lean Analytics Book: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster

Did you find out what stage you are in?

Great!

Can you see which metric is the most important?

Excellent job!

Now you can reverse-engineer the formula to get rid of those 3 startup mistakes for early stage entrepreneurs!

Keep in mind that even though this article was mainly from our observations with early stage, first time entrepreneurs, there may still be more information to come! There may also be more than 1 metric that will yield a red flag such as low product market fit and finances.

As someone who studies startups, I wanted to share with you my learnings about this fascinating industry. I hope that with this simple guide, your early stages in your company will go much smoother! If you have any questions about your metrics, send me an email at sydney.wong@venturx.ca and let’s take a look together!

 

Share this:
Posted by VenturX in Blog, 0 comments

How to Survey for Product Market Fit in 24 hours

With all the buzzwords surrounding entrepreneurship like venture capital, acceleration, growth hacking, etc., there is always one phrase that stumps most entrepreneurs in their track! PRODUCT MARKET FIT!

This topic was fascinating to me to the point where I have been researching it since 2016 and built a startup tool to measure it. That was how VenturX was created, a startup that focuses on leveraging data to help early stage startups get from product market fit to funding. We focus on the most important KPIs for young companies such as product market fit.

At VenturX, we’re creating tools to help early-stage startups succeed; the first thing we always suggest is assessing the product-market fit. Not only is it the number one reason why startups fail (according to a report by CBInsights), but also the hardest to achieve because it can seem daunting to collect all the data in order to prove that their idea addresses a real need. The initial assessment of product market fit doesn’t necessarily require huge amounts of time or money. In this post, we’ll lay out four straightforward steps that you can follow to get a solid first look at how well your idea fits a market need.

top 20 reasons startups fail

What exactly is product market fit?

“Product/market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.” — Marc Andreessen, Entrepreneur & Co-founder of Silicon Valley Venture Capital Firm (Source: http://web.stanford.edu/class/ee204/ProductMarketFit.html)

4 steps for assessing product-market fit

1. Determine Your Target Audience

If you don’t know where to start, ask yourself who are you selling to and who needs your product/service?

From researching entrepreneurs for the past year, I learned that the hardest step is surveying those first 5 customers. To do it in 24 hours, can you find an event or location where your target audience happens to be? Remember you are doing research and not selling to them.

Example: For VenturX, part of my target audience is venture capital investors. I knew that they could often be found at startup competitions where they serve as judges. I knew that attending an event like this would be ideal to get the most amount of research done in 24 hours.

“If you can do 5 [customer interviews], you can do 35” — Robert Bennett, Viatec Accelerator

Tip: Not everyone likes talking to strangers, so why not bring a friend who LOVES it!! If you are in Montreal, send me a message or comment below and I’ll take the first 5 people to go surveying for their startups!

2. Ask the Right Questions

I asked multiple startups how they were currently researching product market fit and they all told me they input information into a spreadsheet and never used it again. Their issue was that they were collecting only qualitative information and had no way of comparing answers. If they had quantitative information, they would be able to compare the target market’s level of pain and benefit.

The solution? Rather than asking purely open-ended questions like “What do you think of this idea?” get them to describe the pain your idea addresses and the benefit it provides and asks participants to rate them on a numerical scale. Here’s an example of how your survey might look. If you’d like a copy of the survey, shoot an email to sydney.wong@venturx.ca with the subject line “Product Market Fit Survey” and I’ll send it your way.

Example of Pain: Startups who are not ready for funding take up a lot of the investors’ time with everything from initial pitches to due diligence and follow-ups. Investors often end up telling these startups to keep in touch, that it is not a good fit at this time, or to come back later.

Example of Benefit: What if you had a solution that would replace your current application process and cut your due diligence in half? You would see the best startups who have reached their product market fit level and score higher than their industry benchmarks.

TIP: Always ask about the pain before the benefit. If you only talk about your solution, it is no longer research, but rather a sales pitch!

TIP: If you are unsure of your pain and benefit statements and only have limited time at one event to get all those responses, then bring two different pain and benefit statements, and compare responses to both.

3. Track Answers

Currently, most startups are manually tracking their answers on a spreadsheet. The benefit of spreadsheet tools is that it’s familiar, and you can manually create graphs from the data and present them to your team.

Another option is to use the startup tool that we’ve created at VenturX, that takes in your survey data and automatically calculates a product market fit score. It takes 30 secs to get a score like the one below! You can try it out at www.venturx.ca.

Example of my score when I interviewed Early Stage Venture Capitalists regarding their Pain and Benefit:

Find out your product market fit score @ www.venturx.ca

TIP: Do not let your target audience see other people’s answers or else it might influence their answers too.

4. Rinse and Repeat

It is normal that you do not get a lot of 9’s and 10’s on your first iteration, but the important thing is to stay consistent. Do not change your pain or benefit statement after just a few responses. (You’ll know that you are on the right track when you consistently get high scores (9’s or 10’s) when you survey.

Example: I had to narrow my target market to only early stage venture capitalists, rather than all VCs. If I expand my product with more features, I will have to rinse and repeat this process all over again with a new product market fit survey for a new audience!

Once you’ve completed these steps, take a step back and look at your results. Whether your scores are low or high, you’ve certainly achieved something. You now have a quantified score that either validates your idea or tells to you to try a different target market or tweak your angle. Either way, stay strong, motivated, and persistent, and keep on quantifying!

So there you have it! Steps on how you can quickly and efficiently get your product market fit and get a real analysis of what your market is really looking for. Product Market Fit is one of the key KPIs that VenturX helps startups track and improve on in real time. For more information about this topic or other startups KPIs, please visit www.venturx.ca

Or contact the author sydney.wong@ventux.ca

Share this:
Posted by VenturX in Blog, 0 comments