The weather has turned, the leaves have fallen, the holidays are passing, and a new year is about to begin.
Ah! Change, transition, reflection. For the last newsletter of 2022, how fitting that be my muse.
In lieu, I opt for cliche: the best of 2022.
Enjoy with tea, coffee, or a fine tawny port.
Read time: 5 minutes.
It’s been quite the year for Jaydoom!
As most of you probably know, I’ve spent much of the year experimenting with content creation in various forms:
- Weekly live-streamed office hours on YouTube.
- Giving talks around the continent.
- Running 7 cohort programs.
- Turning from TikTok consumer to TikTok creator (sans dances).
- Doubling down on twitter…and then leaving twitter.
- Blogging daily for two months, and then shuttering it.
- Carousels, reels, and livestreams — oh my!
- and more.
It’s been a varied journey, replete with successes, failures, and murky outcomes.
And yet, across that entire journey, through a dozen platforms, different media, distributed locations, diverse founders, and varying experiences, an interesting (and yet unsurprising) pattern emerged:
75% of founders ask me the same question.
Can you help me find investors?
To their surprise, and subject to a few followup questions, my answer is usually no.
The problem? 99% of founders seeking their first investment don’t have:
- A well-defined early adopter;
- A validated channel; or
- Evidence of buying behaviour.
In other words, they’re just not fundable yet.
We can work through the team, timing, TAM, and terms questions, but we can’t materialize opportunity where none exists.
They have too much ideation, and not enough execution.
But not only that — it’s usually the wrong question.
One of my pet peeves is the pop culture narrative of the startup:
He had a brilliant idea, got investors, hired a team, built an amazing product, and quit his day job — because failure is not an option!
The better narrative is:
She had an idea, talked to customers, found out it was wrong, pivoted into a problem they’d pay her to solve, used the pre-sales to build the product, and then quit her day job.
But it’s not just the story. It’s the placement of investment on a pedestal — presenting as pinnacle the acquisition of capital with no regard for its present utility.
That’s not to say investment isn’t needed. For many startups in many use cases, it’s essential. The right investment at the right time is an accelerant. But at the wrong time, investment is a drag.
In other words:
But that’s not why it irks me.
Honestly, the early quest for capital just signals a lack of imagination on the part of the founder: can you really think of no other path forward?
And it’s no surprise I feel this way, because:
I wrote a lot this year about finding paths forward.
Rapid prototyping was surprisingly popular!
It’s is about building small facades that represent the real thing, which you put in semi-real conditions with real customers to gather signals that you’re on the right track.
Early prototyping + rapid iteration = winning startups.
The content was so popular that I built a whole cohort around it, which sold out. A big thank you to the dozens of amazing participants, and to the Metro Business Center for sponsoring it.
If you’re new to rapid prototyping, here’s two newsletter issues from the summer to get you started:
Another path forward? Focusing on distribution over product.
In other words, don’t build a product until you know where you’ll sell it. Or, as I like to say: never put the what before the where.
In fact, I told the story of a startup last week who used this strategy to get to multiple LOIs in 24 hours — with nothing but an idea.
So what's the best advice of 2022? Whatever you're working on, find the quickest path to exposing it to real customers. Because it probably won't survive.
And I’ll let that be the last word of 2022.
See you next year, my friend.
Whenever you're ready, there are 3 ways I can help you.
If you’re still in the idea-to-seed stage, trying to get early traction, I’d recommend starting with some coaching:
→ Book a 1:1 coaching session to tackle one key challenge, from prototype to pitch.
→ Apply to my Traction Coaching program, and we’ll find traction together.
- If you already have early traction, I’d recommend running a Traction Sprint to find the traction you need to get from Seed to Series A.