For years (actually for untold millennia because I began this back when dinosaurs still roam the earth and my first company failed to sell them nemesis asteroid / meteorite countermeasures), I’ve been pushing founders to view the competitive landscape differently than they do.
The first founder-view tends to mirror the well-known Gartner Magic Quadrant, where ascending on the X-axis, goes from terrible to wonderful, ascending on the Y-axis, from crummy to great, and our product is in the upper right. There are cheap products that get wrong answers, expensive products that get the right answers, unimaginably bad products that still get wrong answers despite being expensive, and ours, with absolutely perfect answers while being cheaper than everyone else.
I try to impose a second view: market segmentation. A clearly definable market that we can serve better than anyone else. I want to see a landscape where there would be a good reason to be at the top of X, the bottom of X, the top of Y, the bottom of Y. Strong vs Portable. Easy to learn vs Extremely Flexible.
Steve has a third view, which I don’t have a name for, but I will call, “successfulness of market.” Have players in this space done well? Been profitable? Had great exits?
If a dozen others have done well, easier to believe that there is a lucky thirteenth.
It’s a new way of thinking for me. It sort of feels, at least in a way, like having heroes.
Ask yourself whether there is a pantheon of heroes (perhaps even gods) in your market. Ask yourself whether there is a definable niche where you fit in. Ask yourself before your potential investors as you.
Entrepreneur in residence at Founder Institute, he has mentored, performed due diligence on, and invested in numerous early-stage companies. Hundreds of these early stage companies have described Russell’s insights and advice as the most useful thing in the history of their companies. He has always had an inborn ability to find more valuable uses of new ideas and faster ways to achieve results.
Will the veteran-founded companies outperform the typical startup? Since The Veteran Fund is putting their money where their mouth is (or I think more properly their heart is), in a few years we will know.