Over the last 10 years I’ve had the opportunity to work with CEOs of the world’s leading semiconductor companies, hardware startups, accelerators, and cloud computing giants. I get to learn from the people who create juggernauts, like community darlings Arduino and Raspberry Pi, and other growing upstarts from Particle to Seeed, Moment and Mbientlab. Better yet, some of the best insight I’ve gained came from the VCs who invest in hardware companies from HAX to Bolt and Lemnos. These investors have a 30,000-foot view of not one but hundreds of companies they have worked with, identifying the patterns and systems that make or break many startups.
I recently asked some of these companies a question, “What are the three most important principles that guided your journey?” I’ve distilled their answers to three simple and beautiful principles every aspiring startup should adhere to:Find Your a North Star
Why are you building this startup and towards what ultimate goal? You must define your North Star and embrace it at every level. Bake it into the metrics and KPIs that reward both wins and fails on route to your destination.Commit to Product Market Fit
Business models are critical and they follow a clear customer demand model. When you commit to a genuine product market fit, almost everything else can be figured out. Risks with new categories will be mitigated if customers truly love your product.Follow Your Customers Journey
Don’t build ANY PRODUCT unless you are certain that at least 100 people are 100% willing and committed to pay for it. It’s nice that you’re solving your own problem fueled by a personal passion. Just make sure that (many) other people share your assumption.
Building companies is a complex, messy and risky endeavor, and the path to success is anything but linear. Early decisions will cast a long shadow on your path and committing to these three basic rules is probably the most critical and foundational set of principles that will set your voyage in the best direction. It’s an advice I’m not only sharing with you, but committing to myself for every venture I’ll ever work for or lead.