Pete Moores has spent over 22 years working at the intersection of science & technology, business, and funding. He’s driven by a core passion to create real-world benefits from new science and technology, not just publications that gather dust on shelves. Pete founded PBM Consulting Ltd in September 2020 after nearly losing his life in a 50-mph car v.s. bicycle crash in January of that year. He emerged from his recovery stronger in mind, body, and spirit, with clarity on how he could make a difference in the fortunes of innovators by applying his commercial expertise and unique approach. At PBM Consulting Ltd, Pete works with technology-based companies large and small to develop strategies for growth and safely reach their next “strategic destination”, be it bringing a product to the market, raising funding, or pivoting to serve new, growth markets. He has previously worked as a head coach on international training and mentoring programmes, with governments and innovation agencies in over 20 countries to develop the knowledge economy, and has mentored, coached, and trained global researchers and entrepreneurs to develop strategic sales and marketing initiatives that unlock their innovation potential.
Nine of every ten science and technology companies fail. It’s not that you haven’t got a good product, it’s not that there isn’t a good market out there for your product, the odds are heavily against you succeeding simply because you don’t get enough market demand quickly enough in the time you have available before you run out of money. Here are the Unicorn Builder’s top five tips to market success, without spending a fortune.
1. Before building, validate, validate, validate
Don’t build anything before you have determined there is a sizeable demand for what you intend to develop. Getting potential customers to evaluate whether what you’re developing will meet their needs is a vital part of getting closer to product-market fit, that point where your startup takes off. Don’t fall into the trap of asking people you know whether they think it’s a good one, that’s just people being nice to you. Interview would-be customers to understand the problems they are facing, and their severity, and evaluate what solutions they currently use.
Take the data your customer validation gives you and integrate it into the next evolution of your potential product offer and repeat the process until pre-orders are flying in!
2. Create a compelling story
Investors say the skill founders most have to master is the ability to tell a compelling story of why their startup matters. Whether to win customers or get investment, the story of your company should inspire, excite, and create emotion in all that hear it. If it leaves them with more questions than answers or needs a scientific degree to understand, you’ve not got a story that’s going to create an emotion or trigger a deal.
Your story needs to be compelling, and engaging, and position your company as THE VERY BEST IN THE WORLD at solving a large enough, ‘painful’ problem if you’re going to convince buyers to hand you their hard-earned cash.
3. The money is not the prize
Don’t think of investors as simply providing the funding that you, invariably, are so desperate for. Think of them as the missing piece in your senior leadership jigsaw puzzle, the provider of skills, experience, resources, and connections to the market that can take you from where you are now, to where you need to be.
Remember, their money is not the prize, it’s the opportunity you are bringing them, your company technology, team, and offering that’s the real prize, so value it as such and be more conscious of who gets to see it, don’t EVER do #4!
4. Don’t rely on spraying and praying
Who can afford to bet on the future success of their innovative company based on odds of 6,000 to one? Yet, this is what’s happening if you follow the traditional approach of emailing a pitch deck and business plan to all the investors you can find. Unless you have 12 to 18 months without generating income to play the numbers game and hope that your pitch deck is good enough to be the one in 6,000 that secures funding, the traditional approach to securing investment risks consuming all of your time, energy, and resources, with a very low chance of success.
90% of investment deals come through warm introductions from their network, referrals from previously funded companies, and from utilising stand-out marketing to attract the attention of investors.
If you put the work in upfront to make sure that the investor you are targeting is able to take the action you are looking for then you’ll save yourself months, if not years, of effort in chasing the wrong investor for your science and technology startup.
5. Chase the market, not the money
If you’ve got a product that the market really needs and customers queuing up to get it when it’s ready, investors will find you.
Demonstrating good Product-Market Fit (PMF) is the most compelling evidence to give investors the confidence they are likely to get the return on the investment they are looking for and improves both your bargaining position to investors and the range of investment sources that are open to you.
Achieving perfect alignment between your value proposition, the needs of your customers, and the distribution model that gets it to them is the key to securing future investment and the ultimate success of your company. There’s a lot you can do before you launch (see #1) to validate your product offering against the needs of the market, to save yourself valuable time, resources, and money building a product that doesn’t hit that sweet spot between customers’ needs, your value proposition, and the route to market.