According to Tim Draper, it takes 15 years to build an overnight success. So one very valuable question is asking “Will this be around in 15 years?” 15 years do sound like a long time from now, but putting this into perspective year by year it actually seems realistic:
Early Stage 🧒🏻
Company get’s started, find co-founder, start to design your business. Get an office, write a plan, grab angel funding.
Ship first product, you likely give it away for free.
First problems, rethink strategy -> pivot.
Study customer behaviour, do surveys, rewrite the plan.
You find product market fit. Raise a larger round, your “Series A”, revenue starts coming in.
Press coverage makes you famous.
Teenage Stage 👧🏻
Exploit product-market fit, expand the business. Finally more cash from customers than investors.
Profitable and growing. Time and cash consumption are no longer your enemies. Options for the business start to open up.
Move past early adopters, a pivot makes you mainstream. Widespread customer base - now you need to standardize.
You challenge the incumbents and are affecting your competitors.
Year 10 Incumbents fight back. Legal battles, press attacks, pushes for government regulations.
Grown-Up Stage 👩🏻
You broaden the market to include the customers you dreamed about reaching when you started the business.
You grow, start reaching those customers and raise a private equity round.
You grow more and eventually become tradeable.
You continue to grow and have now reached the market position you set out to reach.
Your vision is unfurled. The world knows about you, you have now reached the market position you set out to reach, Oh, and 50 new startups are now gunning for you.
Later... Your business will flatten out, suffer from pricing pressure. A cash-cow if you designed it well, but slowing in growth.