Go to Top

A Framework for Finding the Right Startup Target

Finding the Right Startup Target

University of Washington Entrepreneur in Residence Derek Streat had a daughter who suffered from a rare medical condition.  After spending thousands of hours researching her condition and finding it frustrating to have to sift through all the databases for the exact research that pertained to their situation, he was inspired to found Medify.

Medify basically collects these databases in one place and allows people to search on the exact criteria they are looking for.

Medify Info

Source:  Medify

Streat decided to go after the consumer market as a B2C play―the need was clearly there for patients and their caregivers. At that point the question became which medical conditions to focus on―such as Alzheimer’s, asthma, autism, breast cancer, kidney disease, leukemia, and lymphoma – so they could build out their databases accordingly.  Their VC was strongly encouraging them to focus on one of these segments as an initial startup target audience.

Startups have a particularly urgent need to get the startup target right for their innovation because it affects how they build out their product or service, and they have to show results before they run out of money.

But sometimes its hard to evaluate which target is the most viable. There are often many to choose from.  

Framing the Startup Target 

Here is a framework I developed with my various clients over the years to help startups assess the attractiveness of possible targets.

The high-level criteria required for a viable target are straightforward:

Core Framework to the Startup Target
The real power in the framework is that it allows you to build out each of these four buckets with further qualifying criteria to suit your business situation, as in this example [Source: Fernow LLC]:

Adding Details and Depth to the Startup Target Matters
When you find you have two or more equally viable targets, consider what the tie-breaker criteria should be. For startups, it’s often how quickly you can get to market. If you are concerned about showing traction to your investors, a medium-sized target that is willing to buy now is more attractive than a large target that requires a lengthy sales process.

In Medify’s case, once we spoke with the physicians, hospitals, insurers, drug manufacturers, and advocacy groups who made up the health care ecosystem and aligned our findings against this framework, it became clear which conditions―and therefore which startup target segment―had the most potential for their innovation.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts. 

The AMA’s Executive Circle is the indispensable community of executive level marketers who share their passion and expertise to ensure each member’s success.
Learn moreApply for Membership

, , , , , ,

About Lisa Fernow

Lisa Fernow is passionate about innovation and brings over 25 years experience as a global marketer, entrepreneur, and consumer insights professional. At PepsiCo and Time Warner she helped to develop and launch a host of successful new products while accelerating growth for such iconic brands as 7Up, Diet Pepsi and Scooby Doo. She founded Fernow Consulting in 2000 to help organizations innovate and better capitalize on growth opportunities. Her clients range from early stage startups to Fortune 500 companies in a variety of industries, including one engagement with Nordstrom that led to her going in-house for two years to help the launch of their first Consumer Insights group.

One Response to "A Framework for Finding the Right Startup Target"

  • Jim Bilello
    October 3, 2017 - 10:39 Reply

    Hi Lisa, I’m also a guest blogger with the AMA and a Google Agency Partner for AdWords, Google Display Media, YouTube ads, Google Shopping and Remarketing ads. See my profile at: https://www.google.com/partners/?hl=en-US#a_profile;idtf=3825667047;

    I thought your rubric for framing start up targeting was great. I’d like to see / understand more about the last box “leverage IP Assets, capabilities.” That could probably be an entire blog all by itself!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons