Shadowing the CEO — Part II: Learning about Startup Challenges

By Sally Chen

As a founder or co-founder of a startup, it’s not uncommon to run into challenges, and some of these experiences are relatable across different companies. Over the course of my internship at TribalScale, I learned some of the top concerns faced by startups and how to overcome them.

1. Finding your Winning Startup Idea

Some ideas are great, but don’t always translate into great start-ups, and here’s why.

Small Market Size

Before you start building your product, you should always conduct market research to gauge your target audience’s interests. Your business won’t be profitable if you don’t have a large enough target market, willing to pay for your product. It’s all about the product market fit.

Lack of Differentiation

When you have an idea, chances are it’s already been thought of, tested and pushed to market. Start your research early before you begin building your product or service so you’ll know who your competitors are, what they’re doing and how your value prop stands out. If the results aren’t in your favour, move on to the next idea.

2. Building a Successful Team of Co-Founders

My experience at TribalScale made me realize the importance of having a diverse team of co-founders. There should be at least one co-founder covering each critical segment of the business. At TribalScale, JB and Josh cover Engineering, Mitch covers Product and Design, and Sheetal and Dave focus on Operations, Sales and Marketing. Each co-founder focuses on their area of expertise and leverages their partners for support. Further, a founding team with various backgrounds will have a rich network of connections that can be leveraged to reach potential clients.

3. Looking for Funding

Want investors to fund your company? You have to think like an investor! Here’s a list of characteristics they may look for.

Rapid Growth & Scalability

Time is money. If an investor spots the potential of realizing millions from your startup within 5 years instead of an industry average of 10, then your startup will attract more attention. VCs also care about how large you can grow. A startup with the potential of reaching 10 million users would definitely be more attractive than one that’ll reach 10 thousand.

Potential Buyers

VCs consider exit strategies. Would Google/Salesforce/Oracle be interested in buying your start-up? Or would you, as Management, generate enough cash to buy-out your own company from investors a few years down the road? If a clear alignment can be spotted, you stand a much better chance of getting funded.

4. Proving Your Credibility

As a newly established company, proving your credibility and legitimacy can be a challenge. You could leverage advisors or incubators with a good reputation and strong influence in the space to give you a boost. As your product becomes more polished, you could post teasers, photos and videos that demo your product. At TribalScale, we give potential clients tours around our office to showcase our process, it is a way of showcasing our services and establishing legitimacy.

About the author

Sally is a student at the University of Toronto with a double-major in Economics and History. She recently completed her internship as Sheetal’s mentee and intern out of our Toronto Office.

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