From driving successful IPOs to funding new ventures, Mike Maples is a product visionary who understands how to find "the next big thing." Before startups can even get off the ground, they face many common challenges that prevent them from achieving greatness. Mike describes the mindset that drives success and breaks down the scenarios that many startups face in struggling to gain momentum.

Common Hurdles For Building Growth Products

We routinely hear stories of growth products from startups that “hit it big” seemingly out of nowhere. Through the years, I’ve found that these achievements are not accidental – they are intentional. In other words, startups that achieve greatness ultimately make a decision that leads to ultimate success.

Furthermore, successful startup teams are led by people are those who do not view failure as an option. That said, we often hear that these runaway successes come about purely because of luck. I’m not suggesting that luck doesn’t play a role – but it’s not the most important factor in driving success. Ultimately, teams that build impactful growth products make their own luck by virtue of success becoming a habit. Simply put, it’s understood that every decision is going to work itself out.

Bill Walsh, the former hall-of-fame coach of the San Francisco 49ers, summarizes this mindset perfectly. “If you try to run the game to perfection, the score will take care of itself.” In other words, there’s a standard of performance that guides great teams to achieve their full potential.

On the other hand, we often see startups fall short of expectations because they face common challenges. Before we cover how to stay on track for greatness, I would like to cover a few scenarios that many will face in trying to build growth products.

Can’t Get To Product-Market Fit.

It’s often said that running a startup is like being blind in a set of alleys. For example, you know that there’s money in one of them. But, you don’t know which alley to go down. In order to build great products, you have to achieve product-market fit. Until you clear this hurdle, you can’t even start to think about future growth.

Early Success – Then Things Go Sideways.

There are plenty of startups that achieve the impossible dream of going from stage zero to stage one. However, something happens along the way and the company loses focus. It’s hard enough to get a startup off the ground – let alone reset your team when your company gets off track.

Second Product Doesn’t Get Traction.

Every startup’s success is powered by a core product. Logically, the next step is to come out with a complementary or 2.0 product. Despite your best efforts to put your best resources into its development and aggressively promote your new product, it’s just not resonating with customers. Simply put, it’s not gaining traction in the same fashion as your 1.0 product.

 

In summary, the key learning in all of these scenarios is that value creation for growth products involves multiple phases and transitions. Ultimately, products create value in different ways over time. I will take you through each of these phases and how you can work to achieve greatness in your product journey.

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About the Speaker
Mike Maples
Floodgate Founding Partner
Mike Maples Jr. is a Partner at Floodgate - a venture capital firm based in Silicon Valley. Featured on the Forbes Midas List since 2010 and was named one of “8 Rising Stars” by Fortune Magazine, Mike is an investment guru with years of experience in finding the next big thing in tech. Before becoming a full-time investor, Mike was involved as a founder and operating executive at back-to-back startup IPOs - including Tivoli Systems (acquired by IBM) and Motive (acquired by Alcatel-Lucent). Mike holds a BS from Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. In his free time, Mike enjoys the world of cinematography and is a fan of sporting clays.

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