TODO list for the first 90 days after starting a deep tech startup
Day 1. You have decided to start a company. What’s next?
You have the big idea. You may have an invention or a prototype. There may be a few people. You may even have some funding or a place in an accelerator program.
Now it is time to start building momentum and to transform the loose collection of elements into a company.
This is the list we share with our teams at Main Sequence when we start a Venture Science company. Not everything will be relevant for you. But it is a helpful list to stop procrastinating and start building a company as well as a product.
Go and say hello to your customers and develop a customer playbook
- Interview 100 customers and pitch. Learn what lights them up.
- Develop a customer discovery interview format. How do we get get to value discovery quickly and consistently?
- Create pitch deck for customers. It is probably different to an investor deck.
- Build a network map of the people that matter around your company. Who can champion? Who can kill?
Establish digital systems today to start collecting the memory of the company
- Something like Notion to collect playbooks, policies, etc
- Something like Hubspot or Copper to collect people (customers, potemtial employees, etc).
Build v0.1 company playbook. This can be simple at first. Trust that it will grow.
- How do we pitch?
- What do we stand for?
- What is our culture?
- How do we sell?
Turn the big idea into a first hypothesis of strategy
- Create Slam Dunk Financing hypothesis / target. What is the next funding milestone and what have you delivered by then.
- Develop Path to Massive (see startupscience.com resources)
- Develop Value Proposition Canvas (see startupscience.com resources)
- Develop Business Model Canvas (see startupscience.com resources)
- Develop OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) for the first 12 months.
Build your story
- Run Messaging workshop to know what words you use
- Establish a visual brand that is professional and be OK with the idea that you might change it one day
- Launch holding web page. Even if it is just a logo in the middle of the screen. No code services like Webflow make this easy.
- Get a Twitter account. People can’t talk about you there unless they can @mention you
- Media launch — target outcome? Customer pull?
Start building thought leadership around your category
- 10 Medium Posts
- At least 2 tweets per week
- Build a Twitter list of the people that matter around your company and check into it regularly. Join the discussion
- Consider a program like Ship30for30 if you need motivation and skills to get started
Establish the corporation
- Get insurance (including D&O). Set up a cycle (eg annual) for regular review of level and scope of coverage.
- Engage accountants
- Engage lawyer
- Book first 12 months of board meetings
- Develop ESG framework and targets
- Build an ESOP plan (Lawpath)
- Draft policies for:
- ESG (including modern slavery)
- Diversity and inclusion
- Risk management
- Business continuity (e.g. COVID-related operating disruptions)
- Delegations and authorities
Bring the invention to life
- How quickly can you show something? What is it?
- R&D Tax Project Plan. There’s real money there to fund your growth
- Patent / IP strategy
- Prioritisation of proof. What do you need to show for people to believe you?
Build your investor/funding network
- Create a pitch deck for investors.
- Present to other founders for feedback
- Pitch Slam Dunk financing story to investors and test for their interest. At least 2 investors. It is OK to do this years before pitching
- Review of government grants available for your startup. Make a big list and add to the calendar
What am I missing? I am @philmorle on Twitter
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