The myth of the “visionary”: Why startups are about customer engagement.

We are just kicking off our recruitment for 2018, which means it’s that time of year when we talk with a lot (read 2,000+) new startups. Despite all of the amazing information available for entrepreneurs to read, the same elephant in the room continues to pop up: they haven’t spoken with any customers yet.

It’s very easy for an entrepreneur to get so excited about the idea that the end customer becomes secondary. Let me tell you something many investors won’t admit, I did the exact same thing when I first started my company!! What I learned the hard way is that to make your company a reality the priority needs be the other way around. Developing an idea then releasing it to the masses in the hope it goes viral is a worse strategy than buying a lottery ticket. You’ll end up spending way more time and money, and your odds of success are much lower.

To play moneyball with startups your first thoughts should be to engage with customers, learn about what problems they have, figure out what value your idea would create, analyze your interactions, and iterate. If there is one major lesson to be learned from StartFast and other accelerators alike, it’s that the successful startups live and breath this process over and over again. This is exactly why early-stage investors are so focused on the team themselves and less on the current product. We know it’s going to change at least three times before product-market fit is truly demonstrated anyway, we just want to see if this is a team that can execute. If you want to turn your company into the vision I know you have in your head, learn to be less excited about your idea and more excited about engaging with customers.

Apply now and turn your start-up into an extraordinary company.

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James Shomar
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