Founder-Market Fit: Why Are YOU the Right Person to Start a Company?

The key intangibles that are essential for entrepreneurial success

👋 Hello, welcome to the Startup Hustle! I’m your guide, Matt Watson. I share weekly tips from my 20+ years of startup founder experience and stories from other entrepreneurs from the Startup Hustle podcast.

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Anyone can start a company. 

Why are you the right person to start this company?

What sets you apart from the countless others who have had the same idea?

You have probably heard of “Product-Market Fit.” But, have you heard of “Founder-Market Fit?”

Founder-Market Fit refers to the alignment between a founder's skills, experience, and passion, and the needs and characteristics of the target market.

As someone who has been in the startup trenches for years, I've learned that the most successful entrepreneurs possess certain intangibles that give them a significant advantage over their competitors. These intangibles are the secret sauce that can make or break a business, and they go far beyond just having a clever concept.

In this blog post, I'm going to dive into some of the key intangibles that I believe are essential for entrepreneurial success. Whether you're a seasoned founder or just starting out on your entrepreneurial journey, understanding and cultivating these intangibles can be the difference between a thriving business and a flop.

Are they required? Absolutely not. But they give you a big advantage.

Most investors are looking for founder-market fit to determine if they would invest in your company! 

On this weeks episode of the podcast, I interviewed Stephen Wolfe, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Growth Street Partners and we talked about this very topic.

You can listen to the podcast episode anywhere you listen to podcasts, our website, or on YouTube! We discussed practical fundraising and founder-market fit.

Let’s dive into some of the key things to consider about founder-market fit.

#1: Industry Experience and Problem Expertise

One of the most powerful intangibles you can bring to the table is deep industry experience and a genuine understanding of the problem you're trying to solve.

When you've worked in an industry and have firsthand knowledge of its pain points and challenges, you're in a unique position to create a solution that truly resonates with your target market.

Take the example of my former boss, Russ Lindmark, a previous podcast guest.

He was working in the concert and sports ticket industry and noticed that a significant percentage of tickets were not being delivered on time by
FedEx or UPS.

Armed with this first-hand knowledge, he took the initiative to build a software solution that audited FedEx and UPS bills. That solution eventually turned into its own successful business, Veriship, with a substantial exit.

Even if you don't have direct industry experience, being an expert in the specific problem you're tackling can be just as valuable.

When I started Stackify, I had years of experience as a CTO and felt confident in my ability to solve the problems I was targeting for other tech teams. However, I had no prior experience in the industry I was entering.

Nonetheless, my deep understanding of the problem allowed me to create a product that addressed real needs.

#2: Industry Connections

In the world of business, relationships are everything. Having a strong network of industry connections can open doors and create opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach. This is especially true in B2B industries, where sales are often driven by trust and personal relationships.

If you or someone on your team has established connections in your target industry, it can be an enormous advantage. These relationships can help you land your first customers, secure partnerships, and gain valuable insights into the market.

Even if you don't have personal connections, hiring someone with a strong network can be a game-changer to add to the team.

At Full Scale, I recently brought on a new head of sales with 25 years of experience in our space. The relationships he brings to the table are invaluable and will undoubtedly help us reach new heights.

#3 Following and Influence

In today's digital age, having a substantial following or influence can be a powerful intangible. If you've built a loyal audience through social media, a newsletter, or other channels, you have a built-in customer base that trusts your expertise and is likely to be receptive to your offerings.

We've seen countless examples of entrepreneurs leveraging their following to launch successful ventures.

  • Donald Trump started his own social media platform, Truth Social, banking on his massive supporter base.

  • Alex Hormozi launched a highly successful book thanks to his extensive following.

  • Snoop Dogg was able to sell millions of dollars worth of NFTs simply by being, well, Snoop Dogg.

The key is to create a product that aligns with your expertise and resonates with your audience. By doing so, you can turn your followers into your first customers and most passionate advocates.

#4 Funding and Resources

While money alone doesn't guarantee success, having access to funding and resources can certainly give you a leg up on the competition.

With sufficient capital, you can hire top talent, invest in marketing, and build a high-quality product without the constraints that often hold back bootstrapped startups.

Of course, funding is not a silver bullet. Plenty of well-funded startups have crashed and burned. But when combined with other intangibles like a strong team and a solid business model, having the financial resources to execute your vision can be a significant advantage.

#5 A World-Class Team

As the saying goes, "Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships." Having a world-class team with a proven track record of success can be one of the most powerful intangibles in your arsenal.

When you have a team that has worked together before and has a history of delivering results, investors and customers take notice. They have confidence that you can execute on your vision and overcome the inevitable challenges that come with building a business.

However, it's important to remember that even the best team needs to be working on the right idea. A great team working on a mediocre idea is still likely to struggle, while a mediocre team working on a great idea has a fighting chance.

If you are looking to build a world-class software development team, Full Scale can help! We provide top talent from the Philippines to build long term dedicated teams.

#6 Existing Customer Base

You have a tremendous advantage if you're creating a new product or business that you can sell to an existing customer base. You've already established trust and credibility with these customers, who're more likely to be receptive to your new offering.

This is a common strategy for entrepreneurs who acquire businesses related to a company they already own. By leveraging their existing customer relationships, they can quickly scale their new venture and achieve profitability faster than starting from scratch.

Founder-Market Fit Matters

While having one or more of these intangibles can greatly improve your odds of success, it's important to remember that nothing is guaranteed in entrepreneurship.

The most important things are to build a product that solves real problems and to develop a successful go-to-market strategy.

Traction is the ultimate validator. If you can demonstrate real growth and customer adoption, you've got something special, regardless of whether you have any of the intangibles I've discussed.

Founder-market fit is important, though, and if you are thinking about starting a new business, I strongly suggest you consider it!

Who is Matt Watson?
Join 44,000 others, and follow me on LinkedIn. I am also the host of the Startup Hustle podcast, which you can listen to on any podcast app or YouTube.

I’m the CEO of Full Scale. We help companies scale up their development teams with top talent from the Philippines at a 60% savings.

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