Astrid Malval-Beharry shares a case study on building a disruptive smart home solution for an InsurTech startup.
An InsurTech startup approached StratMaven for assistance with a monetization strategy for their smart-home solution. The company wanted to understand whether insurance carriers were interested in subsidizing the cost of the solution, as part of their overall objectives of improving the policyholder experience, preventing claims, and reducing overall costs.
StratMaven conducted in-depth interviews with carriers and surveyed policyholders to test the product concept and perceived value(s). We found that all carrier segments (large, medium, small by homeowners insurance premium size) had strong interest in the solution, but required additional data supporting the solution’s ability to prevent catastrophic damages. Additionally, carriers were interested in receiving a concrete translation of the savings potential resulting from these specific performance metrics. Finally, StratMaven discovered that while respondents clearly saw the value of the solution at a conceptual level, there was some operational uncertainty with device installation and monitoring that could be addressed using a well-crafted pilot program.
StratMaven helped our client formulate a roadmap to bring the solution to market by providing a better understanding of each carrier segment’s willingness to pay for the solution as well as which features should be emphasized when marketing the product. By validating the company’s hypotheses with key market stakeholders, StratMaven helped our client protect its first-to-market competitive advantage, while providing the insights needed to allow them to confidently move forward with their product development plan.
Access the case study, Building a Disruptive Smart Home Solution, on Stratmaven.com.
In this evergreen post from Johannes Hoech, he shares nine tips for startups to get traction with analysts.
Once technology startups close their first few enterprise deals and increase revenue to millions of dollars, they often want the analyst community to recognize their innovations and give them their rightful standing in the marketplace. However, few companies know how to engage analysts effectively, are unclear on whether they should even strive to gain analyst recognition, and if they do participate, are uncertain of budgets needed to attract them.
Much has been and can be said about how to get into the analyst reports such as the Gartner Magic Quadrant. However, we are going to keep it simple. This blog is based on our experience of successfully having placed companies into the Gartner Magic Quadrant and the cool vendor report. In each case, those goals were achieved within 12 months, and in each case, prior negative analyst perceptions had to be overcome.
In our experience, these are nine key elements to successfully engage the major technology analyst firms such as Gartner, Forrester, Sirius Decisions, or 451 Research Group.
1) Clarifying competitive differentiation and customer value-add
Analysts provide advice, market overviews, and vendor assessments to large corporate clients who rely on the key firms to absorb and implement needed technologies. Those corporate clients also account for most of the analysts’ fee intake. This creates a need for analysts to be objective. Their advice has to deliver results for their clients and not push certain vendors.
Most startups are reinventing some technology, while most of their enterprise clients must manage their needs effectively with existing and established technologies. As such, it’s very important for startups to prove that their new technology works and delivers results so that they can be considered for purchase.
This means startups must examine why they are better than their competition and why they deserve special recognition. When doing this, it’s essential not to think inside-out or express overly technical explanations of how something is done under the hood but think outside-in about what is the big problem that this technology solves more cheaply or effectively than the existing alternatives.
To think through your technology’s differentiation, it can help to invite your buyers to comment on the efficacy of your product before engaging with analysts. Carefully listen to objections they might voice. If they express any complaints, the chances are that analysts in their surveys hear the same feedback. When preparing for analyst conversations, any objections should be examined, and counterpoints formulated.
Remaining points include:
- Understanding each analyst firm
- Leveraging analysts for thought leadership activities
- Effectively managing analyst engagements
Read the full article, 9 Tips for Startups to Get Traction with Analysts, on MarquetU.com.
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.
- TAM/SAM/SOM and LAM
Read the full article, TAM/SAM/SOM The Meaning Behind the Metrics, on FairbanksVentureAdvisors.com.
Nicky Shah shares a Q&A post on Saint Aymes, a business startup that has successfully merged the worlds of art and chocolate. She interviews the two sisters behind Saint Aymes – Lois and Michela.
How old were you when you decided you would try to launch your own business?
We didn’t really have a “moment”. Our parents had been business owners when we were growing up so it seemed quite natural to want to also run a business at some point. However, the older I got and the more I worked for others, I certainly saw that being one’s own boss had many benefits.
Do you remember what main thoughts and feelings went through your mind when you debated whether or not to push forward with the idea?
I was excited to push forward. Lois and I always had different side businesses going on. I suppose at the time we started Saint Aymes, it was at a point that neither of us had any long term, permanent commitments to any other ventures.
I was excited as I knew that I could not wait around for employers to notice I had what it took to succeed. The only fear was not getting started… for me I could see, for whatever reason, that the corporate world wasn’t going to allow me to progress fairly.
Key points include:
- Creating a new market space in the chocolate category
- Working with family
- The impact of social media
Read the full post, Q&A: Business startup with the founders of Saint Aymes, on freedomwanted.com.
Rahul Bhargava takes a look at thriving startups and shares the key factors that led to their success.
Recently, one of the startups I am working with, asked to ‘decode’ a post by Michael Stewart he had read about success factors for a startup. This post itself was a further assessment based on the TED talk by Bill Gross, founder of Idealab, given in March, 2015 on the topic. The talk and further assessment by Michael assessed 5 factors for startup success – Ideas, Business Model, Team, Funding and Timing – and gave verdict on Timing as the most important success factor amongst these.
To assess the impact of Timing, Bill asked the following questions (not exhaustive) from 100 Ideallab companies and 100 non-Idealab companies: Is the idea too early? Is the world not ready for it? Is too much education of the customer required? Or is it too late, giving the competition too much time to be competitive?
The question asked from me was – How do we decide if the timing is right for our startup? I shared with them a version and then thought of taking it to a wider audience for inputs.
Overall, a large number of factors that influence a startup could be taken care off by the other 4 parameters (Funding, Team, Idea or Business Model). I believe that those factors that are not completely under your control, are the ones to be considered under Timing.
Key points include:
- Product development
- Customer acceptance
- Scale up requirements
Read the full post, Decoding the biggest success factor for Startups, on LinkedIn.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Janet Bumpas. Janet Bumpas comes from Silicon Valley where she was part of three startups. She loves all aspects of growing an idea through launch and then building it in the marketplace. Usually, she focuses on product, working with customers to understand their needs and translates these into a product. Currently, she lives in the Netherlands where she works both with large companies and entrepreneurs helping them to launch and scale businesses. She has run accelerator programs for entrepreneurs and intrapraneurs and really enjoys both working with teams and facilitating larger group workshops.
Janet has also consulted many of the world’s leading organizations on growth and profitability strategies. After receiving her MBA from The Harvard Business School, she worked at BCG. She later worked at Razorfish as a Senior Strategist where she advised corporate clients on how to profitably use the Internet to further their corporate goals. Finally, Janet has extensive experience in international development (World Health Organization, the World Bank, TechnoServe, and as a consultant to several other international development organizations).
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Uma Sethi. Uma was a Founding member and Principal at BCG Digital Ventures, where she led multi-disciplinary teams to innovate and launch new startups, digital products or experiences.
Prior to that, she was at McKinsey for nearly 10 years. She served as the America’s Retail Practice Manager for 4 years and the remainder as a classic strategy consultant. Uma was also a Founding Member of globalgiving.com.
Uma currently lives in Redondo Beach, California with her husband and 2 young boys. Uma is looking to collaborate on innovation or strategy projects.
Diane Mulcahy provides valuable questions to help discern the compatibility of an investor before accepting funds for your next project.
In the race to get the check in hand, most entrepreneurs don’t do in-depth due diligence — or any due diligence — on the venture capital (VC) firms they pitch. Founding teams eager to raise capital to grow their companies enter into long-term partnerships with VC firms they don’t know well. It’s a risky strategy that can leave startup CEOs in mis-aligned partnerships with unrealistic expectations.
The four questions covered in depth are:
- What is the VC’s track record?
- How much money is the VC personally investing?
- How big is the VC fund?
- Do you have a list of portfolio company CEOs?
Read the full article, Don’t Take Money from VCs Until You’ve Asked 4 Questions, on the Harvard Business Review.
Christy Johnson shares valuable insights from a survey of Seattle start-ups.
Most Seattle startups are very focused on the data—they rely heavily on data to drive product decisions. Seattle is home to Amazon and Microsoft, which have leveraged data to succeed in everything from retail, to cloud computing, software development and artificial intelligence. But it’s also home to non-technology companies like Starbucks, that are operating like technology companies and utilizing data to make their core business decisions.
Visionary technology companies like Apple, Facebook, Uber and Google are establishing outposts in the Pacific Northwest (PNW)
Talent from Silicon Valley is migrating to the PNW because we have these innovative tech companies and a quality of life/cost of living that’s better than Silicon Valley
The PNW has consistently been criticized for not talking about social issues like race—and Silicon Valley companies have begun sharing diversity statistics with their communities, but few Seattle companies have followed suit
To understand what these facts meant for our startups culture, we surveyed more than 315+ employees at start-ups (defined as companies with fewer than 250 employees) in the Seattle area about their experience.
Read the results, including:
- The issue diversity
- Gender equality
- What you can do
Read the full article, The Seattle Startup Survey Results are in…, on the Artemis Connection website.