While we focus a lot of Start Co. energy on ensuring that the founders refine their ideas into real businesses, once these businesses gain traction and/or funding post Demo Day, we continue to support the founders from product launch to product success to business success. The period of time just after an accelerator program turns out to be the most important to the long-term success of a startup.
Start Co. has developed a standard methodology of portfolio management for the startups that graduate from our accelerator programs. However, we understand that as each CEO and founding team carries out their unique vision, they should use our guidelines to adopt their own principles, strategies, and standards. That is to say that our work is only a guide and not a strict set of rules.
This is our process for moving a high growth startup from concept to successful exit. We share these methods with our ecosystem to build a shared understanding of the goals and milestones for the next stages of starting for all parties involved.
The result of this work should be stronger, more successful companies. In the 12 months after Demo Day, we believe that if adopted, the disciplines herein will be EXTREMELY valuable to the new investors coming into the startup – thus we are setting our teams of for greater success in the future.
6 Areas of Focus
The 6 key areas on which we focus our efforts are as follows.
1) Getting the Right People on the Bus
Our first step is to assess the founding to make sure the needed talent for the next 6-12 months is in place. We make recommendations on where changes could be made to improve outcomes in the capital markets as well as within the organization. Further, we seat a board of directors that compliments the founders and investors in the startup. We also solidify expectations for the founders, CEO, board members, and investors.
2) Train the Board
We transition highly specialized business people into more generalized board directors for our teams. These value added leaders are trained portfolio management principles used by venture capitalists. They participate in peer groups exchange experiences and lessons learned as well as continuing education supplied by Start Co. to enhance their efficacy.
3) Train the Founders
Start Co. offers a number of founder support channels post acceleration, including board management support, peer office hours, Start Co.Friday office hours, quarterly reports, and transitional assistance. We educate our founders on the challenges they will face, before they face them so they can meet them head-on minimizing company setbacks and declines.
4) Support Execution on 4 Keys Areas of Business Growth
Area 1: Governance, Culture, People
Start Co. maintains connection with the startups in order to direct their governance, culture, and people. Start Co. guides the company in refining its business plan, aligns the company’s current strategies with its future goals, and ensures that the employees understand their role. There are key human capital milestones that are crossed with growth that need to be navigated carefully for success.
Area 2: Business Model
Start Co. also ensures that the startup’s business model evolves with the growing pace of their company and vision. Start Co. continues to provide financial advice to ensure that the startups continue to grow.
Area 3: Sales and Marketing
Start Co. works to ensure that each of the startups plan and implement effective sales and marketing strategies. This includes competitive landscape, market landscape, and referral customers.
Area 4: Product Development
Lastly Start Co. provides product development support to ensure that the company uses customer feedback to alter the new product at each subsequent phase of growth.
5) Managing Expectations and Disillusionment
From Start Co.’s experience launching startups, we understand the common challenges that founders often face. Thus, we prepare our founders for inevitable rough patches.
After product launch and before product success, founders often experience a period of disillusionment — disappointment resulting from reality — that their startup is not as successful as they hoped. We inspire these founders through this period and mentor them to reach a period of success.
6) If Needed, Manage Failure
If in fact the startups face serious failure, we provide these start ups with the guidance to direct their future plan of action and to optimize the remaining value of their businesses to maximize any return that is possible.
These best practices and the supporting education Start Co. supplies create a set of shared language and conventions that help organize the efforts in each individual company. Our method sets expectations and guidelines for CEO and Founders and further facilitates the adoption of best practices and shared lessons across portfolio companies.