🦠 Tool: Finding product market fit for your startup in a world of Covid-19

In case its useful…

I was chatting with some folks at Nicky Williamson’s fun Tech Community Coffee Morning last week about how I have been tracking the pursuit of product market fit with some of our portfolio companies. In particular, what have we done differently to adapt to these crazy times.

I promised I would share.

A common pattern

As a VC, I need to shift my focus between many companies and I found it hard at first to quickly shift from one to the other. At the start of 2020, I created a common tool for myself that I use for this purpose and I use it interactively with founders that it is helpful for. The core tool includes:

  • Golden Circle — Simon Sinek’s awesome way to think about why a company exists. YouTube walkthrough.
  • Value Proposition Canvas — Strategyser’s simple way of being explicit about who our product is for and why they find it valuable. My walkthrough.
  • Business Model Canvas — Strategyzers industry standard way of describing a whole business model on a page.
  • Slam Dunk Targets — Our template at Main Sequence Ventures for being explicit about how this funded phase of work will deliver a step change in value. My walkthrough.
  • Notable Wins — my way of collecting a list of things that I say when someone asks “How’s Company X going?”
  • Help Needed — a ledger of things I need to do to help the company.

What has changed?

It turned out that this was very helpful as we needed to rapidly triage what each company was doing as Covid19 began to shut down ‘Plan A’ for most of us.

We asked ourselves “What has changed?” What do we think might change? What assumptions are we making? What does the world look like that we need to be relevant for? We ask these questions each day as the world mutates into new forms.

Steve Blank came up with a virus survival strategy for startups that we found helpful.

We also loved Azeem Azhar’s thoughts on a Z-Axis vs a bounce back to the world we lived before.

We then dived back into our tool:

  • We marked all the assumptions we had that we now believed were different.
  • We added a COVID19 Response page to answer very specific questions about what has changed, and what our action response is.
  • We added a timeline page to be explicit about our assumptions and a responding modality of our company. Do we ‘Hybernate’ and focus on things like product development that we can quietly valuably do while customers are distracted? When do we ‘Breakthrough’ with a relevant value proposition that the world is now ready for?

Grab the template

Here it is. Let me know if you use it and it is helpful! I am @philmorle on Twitter.

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

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Phil Morle

Phil Morle

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

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