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“Starting a company is like dating, sometimes you just don’t fit,” says Gavin Symanowitz of Feedback Rocket. Speaking at the Tech4Africa conference, Symanowitz argues that a lot of the time starting a company is more about wanting to disrupt an industry rather than strategically thinking about implementation.
“Startup entrepreneurs like to think they’ll launch their new idea to the world and it will be a resounding success,” says Symanowitz.
“In reality, however, ‘no battle plan survives contact with the enemy’. Inevitably, the market reacts quite differently to expectations and the entrepreneur needs to change the product offering in order to attract customers. In lean startup terminology, the business often needs to pivot to achieve product-market fit,” says Symanowitz.
Deriving from his personal experience of starting his own company, FeedbackRocket — a system that enables an employee to give anonymous feedback to their manager, while at the same time enabling the manager to engage in an online, private text conversation with the employee, who remains anonymous throughout — Symanowitz likens starting a company to dating and finding the right partner.
He reckons that entrepreneurs need to find the right fit between the product and what people are willing to pay for it.
Assumption is the mother of all stuff-ups
“Your assumptions about business may be wrong,” he says, arguing that wanting to disrupt an industry doesn’t mean those industries want to be disrupted.
“Industries don’t like being disrupted. Most industry like the way they do things and are generally afraid of new things,” he argues.
“Don’t assume that you can change everything just because you think it will work. The best way to combat this by doing some market research to prove the need and the market want for your solution.”
He feels that there are fundamental flaws to assuming that your business will solve everything. In tech he feels companies think about their technology is the key factor of the business.
“Nobody cares about your technology, they just want to know what you can do for them. You have to ask yourself: What keeps your audience up at night?”
He argues that untested assumptions about your industry and what your company can do for that industry can lead to lack of success.
“Test test test,” he says.