commercialisation is an integrated and disciplined process that aims to
harmonise the technology, application, market, and commercial development
paths. The process spans a series of overlapping phases.
The value in
crafting ‘the right’ commercialisation strategy lies in enabling easier
execution. Equally, the ‘wrong’ strategy will result in the mis-allocation of
resource and make deal execution an unnecessarily challenging, if not
RIG’s focus on ‘pioneering’ means that we are in many cases working ahead of proven demand and often before the technology has been fully proven or manifest in real life applications. At this stage, revenues are negligible and return on investment still negative. The imperative is to work systematically through the phases to achieve product-market fit and engineer traction.
“If you address a market that really wants your product — if the dogs are eating the dog food — then you can screw up almost everything in the company and you will succeed. Conversely, if you’re really good at execution but the dogs don’t want to eat the dog food, you have no chance of winning.”
Andy Rachleff, co-founder Benchmark Capital
Finding traction and pioneering early adoption constitutes the most challenging and critical stage in building a venture company. In many cases, it is the most highly leveraged activity that a venture company can undertake to mitigate early business risk. It is work that requires a specialist skill set that is markedly different to that required to scale up a company. The experience and expertise we bring to this task is one of RIG’s capability differentiators.
To have the opportunity to deliver a venture scale outcome, our clients must find and engage ‘market pull’. To facilitate this, RIG’s method prioritises the search for Product-Market Fit (PMF).
Finding PMF is an alignment challenge premised on proving out a set of assumptions underpinning a compelling value proposition. RIG’s method begins with a hypothesis which describes the interplay between three critical success factors: the new product, its first market or application, and proposed business model. Of these three factors, locating the ‘right’ first market is the most important and most immediate. Determining the optimum business model can come later.
The majority of early stage technology companies fail to find PMF. Even for those companies that find this ‘fit’, the process often takes significantly longer than anticipated. Entrepreneurial vision is necessary but insufficient. What matters in executing this critical activity is method.
RIG’s method is governed by the belief that an efficient and effective search for PMF should not be a loosely managed activity overly dependent on serendipity but rather a structured search process. To increase the probability of success, the search should be characterised by rapid learning and iteration. This is underpinned by the application of a rigorous and tightly managed discovery and validation process through direct engagement with the market and supported by stage-specific tools.
Success can be defined by three outcomes:
- The new and transparently differentiated product configured to address a significant challenge such that the customer is motivated to adopt now or in the near term
- A high momentum, high value, large enough first market with attractive adjacent markets
- A business model that motivates the market to adopt and enables the company to scale and capture a fair portion of the value it creates
“Your job is to find that front domino, that number one thing that if you could accomplish, [that] will knock over the other 98 and get more done than the other 98 combined”
Verne Harnish, co-founder of Entrepreneurs’ Organization
First Deal Focus
First deals constitute an inordinately important early commercial milestone in building venture companies. They demonstrate market acceptance, mitigate market risk, deliver first revenues, and serve to inflect a company’s value ahead of a funding round.
Wisely chosen and well executed, they provide the referenceability that underpins an accelerating revenue plan. For this reason, first deals are an order of value higher than those that follow: their strategic value outweighs their economic value.
First deals are also different in nature from later deals. To generalise: they are more challenging to win and take longer. In a similar vein, the challenges associated with first deals from an execution perspective are manifestly different from those of ‘known products’. The challenge is to leverage curiosity for the new and to transform it into a concrete commercial opportunity. First deals are also formative in the sense that they initiate the process of working up from scratch not only the company’s deal execution template but how it chooses to do business. This is a valuable by-product of our work.
Establishing PMF and deal execution are interlinked insofar that crafting the right market strategy and focusing on the right opportunities should logically make for easier deal execution. We do the first activity to enable the second, where value is realised.
Supporting and executing first deals is a core RIG activity and a distinctive capability.
“Good strategy = Find an edge, win a small victory or foothold, assimilate new resources, level up, repeat. Bad strategy = Attack everything at once. Don’t prioritize. Bleed strength ..”
David Sacks, Founder of Yammer
RIG does not constitute an alternative to building a commercial team rather we operate as part of the execution team with a defined remit and specific responsibilities.
We are, however, often deployed in a vanguard role to address particular aspects of the commercialisation challenge ahead of building out the commercial team.
This recognises that hiring before realising PMF is likely to retard, rather than accelerate, the process. Hence the maxim: first market, then team.
By proving ‘what works’ on the back of some early success and by identifying what specific competence is required, recruitment risk is minimised.
This is not a trivial issue in the context of venture firms where premature recruitment or mis-matched hires can prove expensive and lead to a loss of opportunity and momentum.
Once a team is in place, the collaboration ends or RIG will be re-deployed in another pioneering role to open new markets for the existing solution or to drive the early commercialisation of new applications or additional products.
Investor Readiness and Fundraising
All our clients require funding to transition between
key value inflection points. To enable effective fundraising, we offer our
clients support in all aspects of investor readiness, in developing an ideal
investor configuration, in building a comprehensive data room, in identifying
appropriate investors, and in structuring and facilitating the investment
process from inception through to close.
RIG engineers two type of rounds: Seed Extension funding
from individual private investors; and Series A funding from private and
institutional investors. We only undertake fundraising support as part of a
broader commercialisation engagement and never as a standalone activity. This
approach stems from the advantage that we can derive from leveraging the
intimacy and familiarity developed though an extended period of market