Launching a startup is an exciting roller-coaster ride unlike almost anything else you can imagine. Having done it now eight times, I know just how exhilarating and exhausting the early years of a company can be for the founder and his or her team.
The sad news is that most startups fail. While there are many reasons for this, failing to find product-market fit is at the top of the list. According to serial entrepreneur and angel investor Hampus Jakobsson, who sold his first company to Blackberry for $150 million:
"I think the number-one reason people fail is market fail--the market doesn't need the product, the market doesn't understand the product, or the market doesn't know of the product…often because the team doesn't talk to the market/users/customers."
Many founders come from an engineering background and either don’t recognize the importance of marketing in the early stages of the company or feel they can’t afford it. They may also believe that their product is so incredible it will sell itself or that VCs are the only market that matters.
As a chemical engineer and data geek, I understand this mindset. However, I also know from my own entrepreneurial pursuits and my training as a Procter & Gamble marketer just how crucial it is to talk to customers, understand their pain points, develop and test different market hypotheses and pivot quickly if need be. The startup’s chance of success increases dramatically if we are able to define the best market and product positioning early in the development process and use this knowledge to build the optimum product and execute sales and marketing plans custom-tailed to this market from the beginning.
The skillset for a startup marketer is totally different than that of marketers working on established businesses. Without the ability to base your plans on what the market is already telling you, you need to quickly develop a detailed vision for a product and then keep testing it until your target market responds enthusiastically. I’ve been a startup marketer throughout my career, specializing in developing new products and turning around market failures even when I was working for Procter & Gamble and Campbell Soup Company.
I love the challenge of helping to develop and market products with the potential to change the world. I also understand how tight funding is for startups and I will consider creative payment arrangements for opportunities that excite me. If you think your company might be a good fit, please call me at (410) 757-2811.