Over the past four years, my co-founder and I have built four different products, including both a B2B SaaS product and a B2C market network with tens of thousands of users. We’ve gone through Techstars, launched on ProductHunt and spoken with hundreds of mentors, advisors and startup founders.
Here we are back in 2017, smoking a brisket outside our no-air-conditioning, sticky-note-covered garage office. The little smiley-faced call bell was our mascot. See how happy, relaxed and well-rested we look? Little did we know, we were building a product without validating customer needs, a mistake that would cost us a LOT of time and money. And I mean, a LOT.
Through this journey, we’ve learned that the way most early stage startups operate is broken, and the solutions to help startups operate better are very broken.
Founders struggle to identify and prioritize which problems their team should focus on solving—sometimes, it’s hard to state what the problem even is. And, in the event a founder does prioritize the right problems, their team often lacks the specialized expertise to solve the problem quickly.
These problems lead to startups constantly reinventing the wheel, taking far longer to solve problems than they should, burning cash unnecessarily, and generally just taking a really long time to reach an early version of product-market fit (that is, if they don’t crash and burn before reaching it).
In my years as a founder, I have personally made all of these mistakes (enough times that it’s embarrassing) and I’ve faced these challenges over and over. I have the scar tissue to prove it.
So, we decided to go after this problem head-on: how might we solve the problem of startups taking too long to reach product-market fit?
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But, before I dive into that, one relevant note:
All along the way, to make ends meet, my co-founder and I have offered consulting services to early stage startups: Zach offers user research and growth marketing services, while I do brand identity design.
We’ve gone really deep here, learning what it really takes to grow a consulting business and how the world’s best consultants do it.
Importantly, we’ve learned first-hand what the biggest problems are when building a consulting business, namely: starting more qualified conversations with your ideal client, building trust with prospects quickly, and working toward bigger, longer-term client relationships.
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GrowthMatch arose from these two lived experiences: the struggles of building a product and striving for product-market fit, and the challenges of building an independent consulting practice.
GrowthMatch is a marketplace where vetted product and growth specialists connect with funded startups to help solve their most pressing problems and speed up the path to product-market fit.
GrowthMatch simultaneously solves the biggest problems faced by each side:
- For the team at an early stage startup, we help them identify, prioritize and solve the challenges that are holding them back from faster revenue and customer-base growth. Faster growth makes everything else they do easier, from fundraising to recruiting, and ultimately enables founders to build the business they were meant to build.
- For specialized product and growth consultants who love working with startups, we help them automate their lead gen by connecting them with pre-qualified prospects in a #HelpFirst format that enables them to build trust quickly. Turning on this automated lead gen channel enables consultants to shorten their sales cycle, increase earnings with better clients, and build a truly successful independent career.
Okay, but how is GrowthMatch different from other marketplaces?
How GrowthMatch Works
First (though startups do rely on us when they need to hire specialized consultants), the bread and butter of GrowthMatch is something unique and valuable: 1-on-1 Working Sessions. Startups can browse hundreds of clearly-defined Working Sessions offered by specialists in GrowthMatch.
Each session is linked to the specific challenge it aims to help startups solve. These are live, hands-on sessions where the expert gets into the weeds, helping the startup through their own unique version of the problem. There’s no fee for each session: startups can book unlimited Working Sessions as part of their GrowthMatch membership.
Second, we throughly vet everyone who joins GrowthMatch, on both sides. Startups submit details about their product, team financing and overall progress to-date. To be admitted, they must meet a financing threshold, demonstrate that they’re working on an important problem with a compelling vision, and show that the early team is committed and motivated.
Consultants go through a similarly rigorous vetting process to ensure they have specialized expertise and proven experience helping early stage startups solve specific, important problems.
And third, GrowthMatch is built on a strong point-of-view for how each party can succeed and achieve their desired growth outcomes. I’ve detailed these viewpoints below.
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Our Point-of-View for Startups
Startups fail because they run out of money and/or energy. Along the way, what does this look like? They waste tons of time building the wrong product. They waste tons of money on growth efforts that don’t work. They don’t have the right metrics to support fundraising. They can’t attract quality talent or strategic partners.
Soon, we’ll publish a longer piece that makes this case more convincingly, but for now I’ll just say that we believe all of those issues stem from two core problems:
- The team doesn’t know which challenges to solve, and in what order to solve them
- The team doesn’t have the expertise to solve the hard early challenges, quickly
We decided to build a list of as many of these challenges as we could, and it’s a living, growing resource called The Startup Roadmap. They’re (more or less) in the order in which a startup will face them, and it’s designed to help teams build a solid foundation and avoid the wasted effort of “building before validating.”
Of course, the rest of GrowthMatch—connecting with specialists, 1:1 Working Sessions, etc.—ensures startups can actually solve these challenges quickly, without having to reinvent the wheel, over and over again.
All of this ladders up to our purpose of helping every startup fulfill their vision of positive change in the world.
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Our Point-of-View for Product & Growth Consultants
The top 1% of expert consultants understand that achieving six-figure years consistently—without working themselves into the ground—requires doing these three things:
1 – Specialize – don’t be a generalist
2 – Design a compelling offer funnel that begins with an intriguing “freebie”
3 – Create a documented process for how you help clients achieve their desired outcomes
GrowthMatch helps consultants do all three of these things at once. On top of that, we give them the simplest possible way of generating new prospects, and we’ve created the format (1:1 Working Sessions, Community Q&A, etc.) that maximizes their ability to quickly build trust with each prospect. No other channel enables consultants to meet their prospects further down the sales funnel.
With GrowthMatch, consultants spend far less time on prospecting and selling; build higher quality client relationships; and increase their earnings per time worked. This is part of our mission: to help every great consultant feel confident, self-assured, financially free and positioned to grow their business as much as they desire.
Where We Go From Here
Launching the GrowthMatch alpha today, we could not possibly be more excited about the future. Early feedback about GrowthMatch has been phenomenal, and we continue seeing top-tier startups and specialists apply to join. So: