One of the learnings of working with startups, investing in them, and seeing them grow as a board member has been how certain companies can Manufacture Inevitability.
Most outliers outcomes in Venture come from companies in the Top 3–5 most significant players in a large market. (Some would argue monopolistic positions are even more substantial (Hello, Peter Thiel), but due to my focus on investing in Fintech, I do believe certain markets are structurally not monopolistic). These companies DO do better than their competitors in terms of KPIs, talent attraction, and fundraising. However, in my experiences, one of their unique abilities is to be able to accelerate these metrics asymmetrically at specific points of their life, for example:
- Raise more funding ahead of KPIs reaching traditional multiple levels.
- Attracting experienced talent ahead of expected funding rounds.
- Signing lighthouse customers ahead of having the level of funding expected to execute on those.
A founders’ ability to manufacture a sense of Inevitability to the success of their companies drive such accelerations. While sometimes hard to explain, this comes down to being able to project and articulate clearly how specific achievements of the company (in themselves outstanding) are a deterministic subset of what’s to come next for the company and its market.
Manufacturing inevitability is a combination of outstanding micro execution and storytelling. Additionally, achieving these moments of asymmetric growth can create positive feedback loops giving a sense that the company is constantly tripping forward toward achieving its vision.
Unlocking a lighthouse customer early on opens up new funding ahead of schedule, making it possible to hire key talent in sales leveraging this reference customer to ramp up revenue that unlocks the next round.
Some ideas for founders interested in working on Manufacturing Inevitability:
- Own your market intellectually, its growth, its massive potential. Be one of the drivers of this narrative publicly. Shopify’s arming the rebels did a lot to help build the belief that independent ecommerce would grow at a fast pace.
- Achieve outstanding micro-wins that drive signaling around you dominating your market. A specific customer logo might be worth more to you than its short-term ARR impact.
- Hire for performance and signal, looking for talent that aligns their career story to your company story.
- Seek thesis-driven / thesis-defining Investors. They are key actors in determining your market. Adjacent for Consumer Subscriptions, Remote First Capital for Future of Work are playing such role for companies in their respective space
- Work on your narrative and build a story that can be read as a series of logical deductions derived from the data points listed above.
While there are undoubtedly critical components of chance, timing, and aura (on top of relentless execution and grit) with companies that write their future, there is also, I believe, a particular methodology to it.