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Take a page from “Nail It Then Scale It” for start-up success


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: May 22nd, 2019

In his recent blog post, startup mentor and investor Martin Zwilling offers tips for entrepreneurs trying to close potential customers. “I see more and more entrepreneurs who seem to have everything going for them — vision, motivation, passion, even a good business plan… and yet they can’t close customers,” writes Zwilling. “Maybe it’s time to look harder at the mantra of a new breed of gurus and successful entrepreneurs.”

Zwilling is referring to the start-up tenets from the book Nail It Then Scale It by Nathan Furr and Paul Ahlstrom, highlighting five specific phases of their strategy that deal with customer acquisition:

  1. Nail the pain. Successful businesses start by solving a customer problem that has a significant, monetizable pain point. Entrepreneurs shouldn’t guess the pain point without testing it on real customers, and they shouldn’t pick a low customer pain for which a solution would be simply convenient rather than crucial.
  2. Nail the solution. Just because a solution is state-of-the-art doesn’t mean people will buy it. Start-ups should start with the minimum set of features that will drive a customer purchase. “Success demands testing the solution early and quickly in the market, then iterating to get it right,” says Zwilling.
  3. Nail the go-to-market strategy. Side by side with nailing the solution, entrepreneurs need an in-depth understanding of their target customer’s buying process, the job customers are trying to accomplish using their solution, the market infrastructure and a selection of serious pilot customers. “Do real tests with real pricing to see if customers will pay you, without being pushed,” writes Zwilling.
  4. Nail the business model. Customer feedback can help start-ups create a scalable business model. “For example, when you think about distribution channels, revenue streams or the relationship with the customer, ask customers what they expect,” says Zwilling. “Don’t forget a viable financial model of costs, margins, customer acquisition and break-even.”
  5. Scale it. Entrepreneurs shouldn’t try to scale their businesses until they have a business model proven repeatedly by customer feedback and other methods. Only then should they focus on the get-big-fast strategy.

Source: Startup Professionals Musings

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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