3 Key Learnings from my 4th Start-up
Blog | 01.02.2015

Three Key Lessons Learned from Four Startups

  1. Your idea is important, but you must have that ‘x’ factor in the execution – Good ideas typically represent a significant evolution over existing solutions, in terms of capabilities, leveraging of new technology, and/or adaptation to a new market or business paradigm. You have to be confident that existing and emerging players cannot emulate your approach quickly, which gives you sufficient opportunity to launch and scale your business. Google was not the first search company but succeeded because of superior technology and brilliant execution. They created Google Ads and AdSense platform to take online ads to small and medium businesses, thereby quickly generating significant revenue. Sapience is a unique concept, but we know that we need to execute at a scorching pace and establish market leadership before the competition catches on.
  2. Stay focused – Steve Jobs famously said that “the customer does not know anything”. This is partly true – you are building that product because nobody else thought of it. Once the first version is built, you will get a lot of opinions – from friends, customers and prospective investors. You cannot please everyone, and they may not even be right. Focus on key features that will get you early buyers first. Then add capabilities based on actual use cases, customer feedback, and your own vision. You may need to make hard choices. At Sapience, our first release featured automated work pattern discovery (our core USP) and task management. We dropped the latter on finding that customers were getting distracted from our core value proposition.
  3. Founders must lead, but also build a great team – Founders must drive the business initially. Early clients need a lot of persuasion since the company is new. Product positioning and differentiation is still being refined in the early days. You have to respond quickly to questions regarding existing features and future roadmap. Quick decisions are required on features and pricing, in order to close deals. If selling is proving to be difficult due to certain product aspects, that must be addressed quickly. Founders are in the best position to tackle these issues. At Sapience, the co-founders led the charge until the first $200,000 in revenue. But then we started building a professional team who brought in fresh perspectives and greater experience, especially in sales and marketing. While I hope the above tips are useful, every journey is unique. We wish you the best as you travel yours!