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

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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Phil Morle

Phil Morle

2.6K Followers

Deep tech VC — Main Sequence Ventures. Ecosystem builder. Maker. Director. Startup Scientist.