Go-To-Market Strategy: Avoid The Missing Link

In my career, I have been very fortunate to invest in startups that have gone on to be successful. While my own investment experience has produced many positives, there are many go-to-market unknowns that give investors pause when considering a new venture.

As you know, there are many risks that accompany opportunities presented by emerging startups. More so than any other factor, the go-to-market strategy employed by startups is critical to ensuring success or leading to its demise.

Through the years, my partners and I have looked into the factors that contribute to go-to-market success or failure within the startup world. As a result, this research produced a framework that includes three phases that any product organization will face in their business lifecycle.

Phase 1: Go-To-Product Phase.

Every successful startup must find its product-market fit. In addition, this is where you get out into the real world to test the product’s relevance with its target audience. Furthermore, there are a number of tools at your disposal to help make better decisions. For example, Y Combinator and Angelpad provide incubators to accelerate your product development and ultimately create solutions that resonate with your customers.

Phase 3: Go-To-Scale Phase.

You’re probably wondering why I jumped to Phase 3 from Phase 1 (more on that in a moment). At this stage, your product is successful and you’re ready to expand. For example, you are ready to expand into new global markets. In addition, your organization is restructuring to meet increasing demand. Ultimately, reaching this phase means that you’ve “made it” as a startup.

Phase 2: Go-To-Market.

Most startups do not fail in the go-to-product or go-to-scale phase. Instead, the biggest reason for not achieving success is not developing a sound go-to-market strategy. Most organizations can find investors to get through Phase 1 or figure out how reach more customers in Phase 3. However, there’s a lot of room for error in the go-to-market phase. To get past these hurdles, we have identified a midway point between launching and scaling known as the “traction gap.”

I will discuss how to get through this critical juncture in order to achieve long-term success.

 

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Bruce Cleveland Wildcat Venture Partners, Founding Partner Member

Bruce focuses on early stage software startups that enable digital transformation across business, government and education markets, and enjoys working with companies that use technology and data to increase revenue and decrease costs. He was the first investor and a former board member of Marketo, which held an IPO in 2013 and was acquired by Adobe in 2018 for $4.75 billion. Bruce’s current investments include Amplero, C3, GreenFig, Obo and Vlocity. He is also the author of the best seller, Traversing the Traction Gap and lectures on the Traction Gap Framework at various universities and industry events.