April 11th, 2019

Lessons from Launch's Founder University

Overall themes of Founder U & What We Learned Placing First in our Pitch Competition Cohort.

We spent three days at Launch’s Founder University with Silicon Valley investors and fellow founders of early-stage companies. Companies invited to the event ranged from AI for home design and a 3D body scanning app to an insurance curator and underwriter. The workshop includes a pitch competition where select founders present their two-minute pitch in groups of three and moderators then rank the pitches in terms of who they’d be most likely to invest in.

The following three lessons were not only direct feedback we heard after placing first in our cohort, but also consistent themes across the three days.

  • Focus on Basic Solutions to Core Problems
  • Clarity is Key
  • Embrace your Boringness

Focus on basic solutions to core problems:

It’s not always the most futuristic technology that gets Silicon Valley excited but simple solutions to core problems. Sometimes that solution is a radical technology and other times it’s a well-designed software or basic app. There’s a reason many pitch decks start with a problem statement, it’s because investors know that if a product doesn’t solve a core issue affecting a large audience, opportunity for scale is minimal. However, building a product that solves a large-scale problem is only step one. Lots of products fail, not because they aren’t solving some problem, but because the solution is too complex.

Even in Silicon Valley where rocket ships and self-driving cars are roaming around, simplicity wins out. The problem of data conflict within organizations and lack of data-driven strategy is usually attacked with large one-off custom back-end builds, when in reality the root of the problem is often inability to do simple data tasks. Bytemap’s Quelle software hyper-focuses on, not only automating the technical basics, but also ease of use. We know that our end-users need to reliably and quickly access data for complex modelling and analytics but also for finding simple answers to key business questions. Uber wasn’t the first organization trying to improve access to transportation, but they had the simplest solution.

Clarity is Key

During the pitch competition, investors passed on many well-established successful companies because what they do or how they’re growing wasn’t clear. The old adage, it’s not what you say but how you say it, isn’t just true for pitching and sales but in all aspects of business. Conciseness was also a theme of the event especially in answering questions. Speakers and moderators were looking for founders to give quick, clear answers to questions and judged the conciseness of answers as harshly as the content of the answer.

In terms of data management, having clear, consistent definitions and context around your data is as important as being able to quickly and reliably access it. Bytemap’s Quelle software ensures both: it provides a single source of truth for accessing data, enhances the data with standard definitions and context, and ensures a repeatable process for analytics.

Embrace your Boringness

The biggest compliment we got at Founder University is that we’re boring. The exact words were something along the lines of “we love people who are passionate about solving the boring problems no one else wants to work on”. Waste management isn’t glamorous, but it’s a huge industry and a massively important issue. We aren’t comparing data management to waste management, but it is similar in that everyone needs it, but few people want to do the dirty work. We admit, we are the nerds who love data dirty-work, but we realize it’s a massive time and cost waste at most organizations: too many people are spending too much time on the foundational data steps that should be automated.

The boring, hard work must be done, but it should only be done once when done right. Bytemap’s Quelle platform automates the tedious foundational data-tasks so that organizational technical resources can be devoted to complex modeling and generating insights and business owners can spend time strategizing on those insights rather than teams spending all their time on the “boring work”.