News Consultants


Joy Fairbanks shares a post that reviews the Lean Launchpad framework for business development.

A timeless framework for testing product/market fit is open to everyone. 

The creators of the Lean LaunchPad movement have been doing this for a while.  Steve Blank is a successful serial founder who launched his academic career and Lean LaunchPad class at UC Berkeley at the request of Jerry Engel, the founding Executive Director of Cal’s Lester Center of Entrepreneurship.  A decade after its launch at Cal, Stanford, and Columbia, the Lean LaunchPad curriculum is taught across the globe at over 200 universities and many private and public accelerators.

The Lean LaunchPad method is an agile approach to business development focused on producing minimum viable offerings to solve customer needs in an iterative mechanism.  It is about constantly listening to what customers want, need, and will pay for in a dynamic environment.  What makes the strategy work is its emphasis on communication, collaboration, and the nonstop validation of product/market fit realized by agile execution.

A Lean LaunchPad class centers on a key business model framework (Alexander Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas) validated component by component by talking to hundreds of people.  It is mind boggling that mature companies do not use this approach throughout their entire organizations.  It could save what is left of the legacy retail sectors.  Imagine mobilizing everyone to talk regularly to existing and potential customers to validate product/market fit and prove revenue models?


Key points include:

  • Collaboration
  • Programming
  • Agile execution


Read the full post, Collaboration in Practice: The Broad Relevance of the Lean LaunchPad Movement, on 


Joy Fairbanks provides an article that offers guidance for founders and investors evaluating market opportunities.

There are three tiers of scale commonly used to calculate the market opportunity for a startup’s product or service offering:  TAM, SAM, and SOM.  These are acronyms for Total Addressable Market, Serviceable Available Market, and Serviceable Obtainable Market.  The purpose of these market assessments is to determine not what is, but what could be. 

Founders, you may be struggling with calculating and interpreting these familiar concentric circles. Let’s begin with the understanding investors would like to derive from them.

What investors seek. Investors are looking for your insight and applicability.  What are the key trends to justify your estimates and action now?  What type of a market are we talking about?  What is the competitive landscape?  Is this a billion dollar opportunity? 

State your market type.  Market type drives your TAM.  There are three market types:  existing, re-segmented, and new.  Launching into an existing market involves luring customers from existing competitors with better features, service, or pricing.  Re-segmenting a market entails luring customers from adjacent markets by satisfying unmet needs.  Creating a new market requires educating a new class of customer on an innovative offering.  The type of market affects the cost of market entry, the sales cycle length, the adoption rate, the time to profitability, and the cash you burn.  Investors need to know this.  

Estimate need.  Size the opportunity fit.  This differs from using existing data for current products and services in a general category.  It requires honing in on the customer’s pain point your offering targets but may not entirely serve.  Uber did not get a billion dollar valuation by presenting a TAM that was too large and unwieldy (the all-inclusive global transportation market) or one too narrow and short-sighted (the existing ride hailing market).  The relevant TAM represents a specific need:  people needing to get from point A to point B on demand (and locally) without driving themselves.  (Yes, a separate TAM should be calculated for the need to move “stuff” from point A to point B locally for UberEats, etc.).  Estimating market size by need is more conducive to assessing innovation potential and new customer segments than by predicting it on existing products and services.


Key points include:

  • Calculate bottom-up vs. top-down
  • Show your assumptions.


Read the full article, TAM/SAM/SOM The Meaning Behind the Metrics, on



Joy Fairbanks provides a reminder on the importance of understanding and applying SEO in today’s online, digital world where algorithms decide what gets seen by whom. And while keywords play an integral role, SEO doesn’t stop there. 

Does SEO matter for an early stage company focusing on building social media connections first? 

It does.  Founders, how do you think you get visibility in the sea of social media posts?  The strategy that goes into social media optimization is at the core of search engine optimization (SEO).  SEO is the online viral result of everything you do online and offline to match your customer’s pain point to your solution.

I am a promoter of growth hacking.  That means that I advise startups on the ways to achieve maximum growth with the minimum required resources.  This growth hacking is part of an overall short-cycle, learning-based approach for companies validating product-market fit.

A digital marketing strategy begins by thinking of the ways to connect with the people you have targeted to serve.  In the early stages, you are making an extra effort to target customers whom you hope will best promote your product to go viral.  So how do you get these early customers to begin the journey to your solution?  You go to them.  You go to where your customers reside offline and online, and attract them with their own language.

What words do your customers use when beginning a search?  How do those customers want content?  Photos, videos, infographics, audio, podcasts?  Do your customers rely on user-generated content (UGC)?  Who do your customers go to for buying advice?  Your ability to figure out the content preferences and leverage the network of relationships offline and online will help bond you to your customers.  The result of doing this well raises your online presence in the ranks of SEO. 


Key points include:

  • Understanding your customer
  • SEO as an outcome of your strategy
  • The benefits of buzz


Read the full article, Should Startups Care About Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?, on LinkedIn.


Umbrex is pleased to welcome Joy Fairbanks with Fairbanks Venture Advisors. Joy is an experienced founder, investment evaluator, and advisor to high growth, innovative companies across sectors. Prior to forming her own boutique advisory, she served clients at LEK Consulting and Mitchell Madison Group where she was an engagement manager.

Joy has extensive experience advising companies across geographies from M&A and strategic planning to process improvement and supply chain management. She advises on business modeling, customer discovery, MVPs/prototyping, product/market fit, go to market strategy, fundraising/investor presentations, partnerships, operations, and financial forecasting.

Joy is an active advisor across accelerators and university startup communities including: Blackstone Launchpad (powered by Techstars), Venture Out, Inventor to Founders (I2F) Cyber NYC, StartEd’s NYU New Media Lab, Stanford University’s Lean Launchpad, and Columbia University’s Entrepreneurship Design Studio.

Joy is open to collaborating on projects of various types, particularly those that make an impact on people, markets, and the planet.