Critical startup basics I couldn’t really understand by reading #1: Value

Step 0: Pitching value

Some of your first pitches are to investors. While it is best to derisk as much as you can, when raising a seed you simply are not going to be able to back up every claim.

Step 1: Technical value: What vs. Why

I remember when I was much younger, I watched an interview with Woz. He mentioned how he used to be able to show people what something does, while today he knows to show them what it does for them.

What problem does my technology solve for my customer?

And continue by examining precisely who that customer is, and what they currently use to solve that problem,

Step 2: Technical value vs. business value

While your solution may solve the world’s problems, and may have unbelievable technical value, is it a business requirement?

“Deploying data across endpoints which will redirect attackers’ efforts to environments we control, detecting them faster along with the associated forensic information.”

While faster detection is valuable, it may not be enough. A lot of solutions would try to claim being faster at something. Another pitfall is showing value, but not one that directly affects your customer:

“Punching attackers by shifting the economics on them. Increasing their costs exponentially, catching them and collecting the associated forensic information much faster.”

Instead, an example business value proposition, or benefit — The why, would be:

“Cyber deception counters attackers once they already gained access to your environment. It provides with visibility into your perimeter, with a control for catching attackers once they attempt lateral movement.”

Step 3: Qualifying your customer

Only when you explain the business value would you be able to start exploring your market. You’ll also be able to gather feedback on how palatable the idea is to your potential customers. Being right too soon is a major sin of entrepreneurship.

Step 4: Shifting with your customer vs. educating the market

Constantly reexamine your messaging. Pivoting does not have to be changing what your company does, it can be as simple as adjusting your value proposition to fit what you do to what your customer needs. Product market fit is undeniable when it exists. Your growth is like fire burning through a dry field. However, product market fit is rarely immediate.

MVP as a way of life

Value is not just about messaging. Your entire startup must be a part of the value seeking process. I am happy to explore new technologies, but I always ask myself: Why? What is the customer value?

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