There are a few common questions that every startup team will be asked – and should be able to answer.
Working in a startup – tech or otherwise – you are often asked a lot of the same questions. It can become repetitive (which means you’re working hard to get the word out) but it is important to have answers to some of the more frequently asked questions.
These questions won’t necessarily come up every time you find yourself in a discussion around your new company, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared to answer them. Some of these may seem obvious – and some might seem a little less likely to hear than others – but better to be over-prepared when starting a new venture.
1. What do you do?
This is not intended to be facetious. When you answer by saying, “I work for a startup,” people won’t care. Speak with assertion: say the name of your startup as if it is presumed everyone knows exactly what it is. When they (almost certainly) ask what company you are referring to, then you can go into more detail. But open with confidence and you’ll be significantly more memorable.
2. What does your startup do?
This is a little different than the first question. In this case, people want to know about the operations. Going into significant detail and explaining what you do with an example is a sign that you’re unprepared.
Q: “What do you do?”
A: “We operate a SaaS platform that allows enterprises of more than ten thousand employees to run seamless, interdepartmental calendars for facilitated project management.”
Q: “Cool! Thanks!”
3. What demos are you going after?
From a marketing standpoint, this is a must. Building a generic archetype, or answering this question by telling people that you are going after ‘everyone’ simply isn’t going to work. Maybe, if all goes well, you’re product or service will one day appeal to ‘everyone’, but you need to start with a very specific user in mind. And, again, not just a broad archetype, but rather a specific individual and work your way out from there.
4. How much have you raised so far?
This is a question that is likely to come up when you’re talking to other startups (looking to pry) or VCs, and it is one that you need to have a definitive answer. It doesn’t look good if you can’t tell (certain) people specifics about your financials.
5. What’s your exit?
An ‘exit’ in the startup world does not necessarily mean the same thing as we inherently think it does. Essentially, when someone asks you about your exit, you need to be able to essentially tell them how an investor will (eventually) make their money back. For a lot of startups in the tech world, the value is in the active audience base. That’s nice for a while, but eventually those investing millions will want to know how they will earn a return.
6. What are you planning on adding to it?
As we’ve seen with plenty of exciting startups (again, particularly those in tech) people always want more. For a lot of users/customers, there is a lot of positivity in an initial reaction, but eventually something else comes along that pulls the attention of the user base elsewhere. You need to know what will come next and think much further ahead than what you simply have right now (assuming what you have right now is working well).
7. Where do you see the product/service in 5/10 years?
This is a question that is in line with the exit strategy. What exactly is your product or service going to look like to the public in five to ten years? Ideally, you will have expanded and will be appealing to new demographics. How will that expansion have come about, and who would you like those new demographics to be? Vision is an important quality in any entrepreneur.
8. What are your roles?
When it comes to smaller teams in the startup world, it can sometimes seem like everyone does a little bit of everything. And, in most cases, that is true. But when someone comes along and asks the question, you better have a clear answer. Running a lean startup is important, and everyone involved should have a clearly defined role and be executing that role to the best of their abilities (along with everything else that they do).
If you can answer these questions, you’re in a pretty good spot! Keep it up!
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