Stop Evolving with the Customer, and Die
Customers and the need to understand them are the keys to startup success. Before building a robot or robotic solution, it is important to understand who the real customer is. Does that customer has a real need? The real need can be easily distinguished from the want or interest. It does not make any sense to jump into the business until interest transforms into a visible want and a visible want transforms into a concrete need. Once the discovery of customers and their needs is done, startups must become customer-obsessed. In the “Age of the Customer“, the most successful companies keep reinventing themselves to understand, engage, serve, and add new customers while retaining the old ones. Customers are evolving day by day, so it becomes important for startups to get ahead of their happy and unhappy customers, anticipate their needs, and deliver a consistently positive experience. At any stage, startups must build customer engagement strategies into every level of their business. Startups can easily make use of new technologies and tools including big data, customer behavior and interest analysis, intelligent market analysis, and reports to develop strategies and remain on top of the competition. It is often a big problem in robotic startups that they constantly focus on future hypothetical customers instead of deeply investigating the existing need for a robot or solution. The probability of success for a robotic startup depends heavily on its discovery of the present-day customers who are willing to pay for the solution.
Stop Evolving with Technology, and Die
Every day, new technologies emerge and new applications are born. This dynamic dramatically changes how robotic startups can develop products and solutions. Innovation is everywhere and it can be very hard to keep up with. Robotic startups must update themselves with the newest trends and technologies and must analyze if the new technologies can be a better fit to solve the pain points of their customers at the appropriate price point. Making the right technology decisions yields huge differences in the final outcomes. This single decision can eventually make or break a startup’s future. Many times, the startup management team ignores the selection of a right technology once they find their first customers and their need. In a hurry to get the customers, they often make mistakes in providing solutions that are poor, inefficient, and ineffective. Obviously they can iterate the solutions, but that consumes more time and money. Another very common phenomenon in robotic startups is that they blindly follow other successful companies in terms of developing and utilizing similar technology. There have been several cases that a particular technology has done wonders for a company within a given timeframe and context, yet that same technology may or may not give the same outcome to other companies. Technology selection and development are indeed very tricky and startups should look for better consultation and collaboration with those who understand the depth of technology and its future.
Stop Evolving with Team and Processes, and Die
Each month, I see robotic startups failing not because they don’t have customers or the right technology, but because they simply don’t have an evolving team and processes (internal and execution). Startups go through various stages and at each stage there is the test of evolution. In the beginning, there are few people. Internal processes and team dynamics do not exist; in fact, that is the time when these two areas should start developing. As the team grows in size, the necessity of having efficient internal processes and a flexible team culture increases dramatically. Many robotic startup founders do not understand the fundamentals of team dynamics and team behaviors. They fail in the next stage when team effectiveness comes into the picture. If they pass the stage of building an effective team and processes, they face several challenges later. Most of these challenges tend to change the team culture, attitude, and response to a given problem. The founders influence a lot in establishing the team culture and values, which are mainly driven by their mindsets, personalities, and working styles. Sometimes what they miss is to remain flexible and collaborative to provide enough opportunities for the team to evolve. Sometimes the rigid nature of the founders does huge damage to the team. With new diverse people joining the team, conflicts arise. Conflict management becomes critical. The natural process of evolution, combined with a behavioral approach, is perhaps the best way to develop the team. Many robotic startups do not focus enough on their team dynamics in comparison to customers and technologies. How serious are the robotic startups in investing time, energy, and efforts in building the right team that aspires to grow at every stage of business? The answer to this question makes all the difference.
The moment robotic startups feel that the world has stalled for them, they must seek a new way to evolve. Looking back at customer, technology, team, and processes will certainly give them enough clues. It is important to identify the forces of change that bring death and then figure out how to cope with them before it is too late.