Lessons from “Startup Once Started, Now is a VC-Financed Machine”

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In business, adapting to different situations is a constant. In a world where there are no guarantees, one of the few constants for managers is that you always have to adapt yourself to the changes around you. Many entrepreneurs start as a start-up, when they have to develop themselves without any outside help and, if they are successful, move on to a VC funded operation. Both phases present managers with challenges and difficulties.

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How we went from “bootstrapped” to “funded VC”

The development of our Customer Intelligence platform started a few years ago as a startup run, which later evolved into a stand-alone project for a major corporation. When you run your own business, you retain ownership and control over the direction of development. At the same time, it lacks funding and certainty. But at the heart of it all is the responsibility of the entrepreneur to build a truly successful business and then convince others to do so.

When developing a service, you must cover all the bases if you want to offer consumers a comprehensive solution to their pain. The best way to do this is to take a step-by-step approach and have a certain “test suite” that gives you feedback as you go along and add more options and features.

The company that hosted our project believed in us and provided us with the necessary “launch”. They have been our customers, our investors and most importantly they have been our support. Working on developing our products with them and getting their constant feedback made it possible for us to focus better. We have also helped simplify our platform and as a result, offer a better product. That opened the way to add more investors to our product.

Affogata, which is in its fourth year of operation, is a VC-funded company. Gone are the days when it was a preparatory process. As we have many customers now and better developed product, we are not content with what we have achieved but keep working hard to better serve our existing and new customers. Our shareholders help and support us as we continue to grow our business. With growth comes more responsibility towards our customers, our employees and ourselves.

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Lessons I’ve learned

Since our business revolves around analyzing customer feedback for our clients, we look at our clients’ wants and desires with the utmost attention. Their feedback helps us not only give them a better service but also serves as a roadmap for us in terms of new areas to delve into. They lead us to build a truly successful business and give us all a sense of accomplishment. Therefore, the first lesson is not to lose focus on how best to serve your product to your customers in the future.

In addition, every company wants to grow faster with data, but many of them ignore what customers are already saying, and do not analyze such responses. Eighty percent of regulatory data is the unstructured voice of the customer, and once we understood that, it helped us shape our vision and change how companies work with technology. We figured that in order to put the customer at the center of organizational decisions, all company teams need data as well as an adjustment to the use case of every other department.

The second lesson is understanding that ideas for new features come and go, and it’s part of the process to see if they work. But as usual, not all ideas develop into actual traits, and if the entrepreneur understands that coming up with some ideas is part of the process, then by all means this will not seem like a failure. Testing and more testing is the name of the game, so that your product turns into something worthy of your customers’ attention and use.

The third lesson is about focus. You can’t be all things to all people all the time, and you have to know what strengths your product has and how it translates to market leadership. In our case, we decided to solve the challenges facing specific industries. This means focusing, for example, on the gaming world and offering our AI analysis capabilities in areas such as product feedback for players. Another great market for us is fintech, where consumers manage their finances with minimal human intervention, making it essential for such companies to know users’ discussions and complaints about these services.

The fourth and final lesson, and this is true for VC-funded stages as well as VC-funded stages, that it’s all about people. If you have good people around you, both professionally and from a friendship perspective, your chances of success increase. You may not agree with everything, but you have to be open to hearing new and sometimes different opinions. If all conversations are conducted in order to benefit customers, the entrepreneurs and their partners will see each other’s ideas as contributions to the overall product and will maintain a positive attitude towards the process and their peers. Keep all of this in mind while developing your next great startup idea.

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