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STRAMGT 359: Aligning Start-ups with their Market

Most everyone associated with technology start-ups would agree that the most important initial characteristic of a successful endeavor is a compelling vision. The journey from vision to escape velocity is highly dependent on management's ability to translate that vision into a product or service that closely and economically addresses a customer's significant point of pain. Without a tight product market fit, the start-up's offering will not be able to break through the market's gravitational forces which strongly favor existing solutions, resulting in likely failure. With tight product/market fit, it is far more likely the company will achieve repeatable and growing sales success. Conventional wisdom dictates that a start-up launching a new product should focus its energy understanding what the market wants (problem) and then translating that knowledge into an optimal set of product features (solution). This is the ideal strategy if one is attacking a market that already exists. However if the start-up pursues an entirely new market or re-segments an existing market, customers are unlikely to be able to articulate the benefits and features they will need. The approaches required to pursue new or re-segmented markets are radically different from those applied to existing markets. As a result it is not relentless execution and exploitation of a well understood market that will lead to success, but discovery of a new market or segment that is in need of the product as envisioned. If done well, this process of finding the optimal product/market fit has a disproportionate impact on success. Our course explores the many issues associated with optimizing product/market fit. A take-home midterm, a group paper, and an in-class exercise comprise 50% of a student's grade with class participation representing the remainder. STRAMGT 353 is recommended prior to taking this course.
Units: 4 | Grading: GSB Letter Graded
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