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Why domain expertise is not enough for launching truly disruptive products

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Who needs to be on the founding team of a Tech Startup

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Why domain expertise is not enough for launching truly disruptive products

  1. 1. Why domain expertise is not enough for launching truly disruptive products Who needs to be on the founding team of a Tech Startup 2018
  2. 2. MY HISTORY WITH LVIV AND STARTUP ● Interested in Startup since 2009 ● Founded my first high-tech startup in 2011, then moved to Lviv ● In startup mode in Australia for a few years ● Then back to Lviv in late 2015 ● Joined YouTeam which turned into another startup ○ A two-sided digital marketplace for hiring talented, full time employed software developers ● Then founded LeverPoint Advisory ○ Consults 4 & 6 startups concurrently
  3. 3. FOUNDING TEAMS AND PRODUCT OWNERSHIP ● This presentation is about the Founding Team at Strategy Formation Level. ● For this presentation Co-Founder = Product Owner ● Cannot generalise about all skills required for startup ● This is because the skill sets required vary greatly: ○ From startup to startup ○ Depending on what stage of the lifecycle of the start up
  4. 4. CATEGORISING FOUNDERS One way of categorising founders: ● Non-Domain Expert ● Domain Expert taking product directly to market ● Domain Expert who: ○ Uses their product within their SME, AND THEN ○ Take their product to market
  5. 5. CATEGORISING FOUNDERS Another way of categorising founder: ● Amateur ● Semi-Professional ● Professional Professional at what? ● Taking New Products, Services, Processes OR a combination thereof to market
  6. 6. LEVELLING UP AS A PRODUCT OWNER My Journey as a Product Owner, how to think about the problem we are solving. Amateur Founders see it as a: - Technical Problem, then later - Design Problem Semi-Professional Founders see it as a: - Primarily related to testing our assumptions with prototypes
  7. 7. LEVELLING UP AS A PRODUCT OWNER Professional Founders imagine: ● Market Entry point ● Path-to-Market ● Go-To-Market Strategy ● Think about the assumptions associated with Go-To-Market Strategy ● Carving a niche, by executing on the right marketing strategy MARKETING SHOULD LEAD >> PRODUCT SHOULD FOLLOW
  8. 8. DOMAIN EXPERTISE IS REQUIRED ● Domain expertise is necessary to have on the team. ● If you are not a founder with domain expertise ○ Find a co-founder who is a domain expert ● Otherwise you will make some low grade errors
  9. 9. BUT IS DOMAIN EXPERTISE ENOUGH? ● No, it isn’t, but why? If the founders are inexperienced with Tech Commercialisation they will likely: ● Apply the wrong conceptual frameworks ● Selecting the wrong path-to-market ● Prioritise the wrong activities ● Make a lot of avoidable errors in taking their product to market
  10. 10. RELYING ON OUR INTUITION ● As founders we often need to use our intuition to make complex decisions But can you trust your intuition? ● Not if it is uninformed / inexperienced ● BUT Informed intuition is often extremely useful HENCE the concept of Tech Accelerators
  11. 11. ADDRESSING THIS LACK OF EXPERIENCE Dream Team >> ● Domain Expert of the Target Segment ● Chief Technology Officer ● Tech Commercialisation Expert Otherwise it becomes a very expensive learn curve. ● The problem Tech Commercialisation people are very rare. ● They are professionals who have: ○ Taken multiple products to market in the past and ○ Have internalised this knowledge & experience.
  12. 12. SPOTTING INEXPERIENCE ● Choosing poor market opportunities. ● Choosing problematic paths to market. ● Unclear about initial target market? ● Who their competitors or competitive set is? ● What they are aiming to achieve with their next release? ● What activities are required to achieve their goals? ● What strategies are required to run a Product Company?
  13. 13. SPOTTING INEXPERIENCE ● The Marketing Channels they need to leverage to drive Product Adoption ● The need to transition from a: ○ Product Management Focus, to a ○ Whole Product Management Focus, to a ○ Product Marketing Management Focus ● The Whole Product needed to gain a foothold in the mainstream market
  14. 14. STRATEGY DEVELOPMENT Blending the three types of knowledge/expertise together: ● Domain Expert and ● Go-To-Market Strategist ● Chief Technology Officer Then we need the right operational staff in place Solopreneurs beware :) there is a huge amount to know for one person. Could need 10+ years of experience, on significant size projects.
  15. 15. FAILURE AT LAUNCH Startups can happen any time but most often at product launch Because the team doesn’t have a commercialisation strategy LeverPoint’s mission is to try to stop this happening quite so much.
  16. 16. We have a systematic approach to commercialising high-tech startup. We help by introducing frameworks to projects: ● lacking structure and ● Help them formulate credible Go-To-Market strategies. Based on experience with over a dozen high-tech startups. OUR UNIQUE CONTRIBUTION
  17. 17. Get in touch regarding Go-To-Market Strategy Particularly if you are a software or product company, who can relate to the failure at launch phenomena. Tristan Senycia tristan@leverpoint.co.uk Go-to-Market Excellence Required for Product Success Helping Product Owners with Market Entry & Product Adoption, while avoiding costly errors THANK YOU

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