The stage, the type of the market and the composotion of the founding team are three of the most indicative factors that might show inconsistencies and potential failure points of a young venture. Bulgarian company Questups has developed a methodology that helps startups identify which steps of their roadmaps they’ve skipped, and find mentors to fill the gaps.
“The methodology could help a company define its priority at the moment and increase efficiency. Sometimes there are teams that come to us desperately looking for sales person and discover that their type of business needs marketing”, Dimitar Karamanchev, founder of Questups, explained Trending Topics.
Ace or Jack, Hearts or Spades
Whether a company is heart, pikes, clovers or tiles depends on the targeted market – consumers, businesses or a mix. For example, consumer facing companies like Dropbox or Google are diamonds, and enterprise focused ones like Salesforce are spades. “The interviews we’ve conducted so far have shown that the successful product startups in Bulgaria are predominantly spades”, Karamanchev said. Defining this fundamental type, helps startups then identify the type of founding team members they would need. According to Karamanchev the consumer-facing companies need tech-heavy trams, where enterprise focused ones are better performing with business-heavy founding team.
The definition per jack, queen, king or ace, on the other hand, is related to the level of maturity of the company – discovery, validation, efficiency or scale. Key factors here could be the number of clients, the definition of the unique selling point.
The whole profiling questionnaire consists of 25 quests aiming to crystalize the type of a startup, the real stage of development of the venture (not the one founders think they are at), its key priority at the moment and the best ways to avoid mistakes. According to Karamanchev Qestups is a tool that makes most sense for just funded product startups. It is actually an acceleration tool, part of the new support structure of entrepreneurship organisation Start It Smart.
What to do with that profile?
Even though to identify some key weaknesses and set priority for the company might be a very helpful experience, that’s not the end goal of Questups. There’s also a matching element. Mentors are profiled in a similar way so they could later plug in into startups processes and support them at the right moment. Karamanchev underlines that a mentor is not necessarily one of the prominent names everyone in the ecosystem knows. They could also be a sales person, a tech expert or product marketing specialist, or even a whole company, who could contribute in a meaningful way and get paid for the service. And here comes the business model of Questups that charges the mentors 20% of each transaction to validate their contribution transparently and startups subscription for advanced profiling and boosted matching.
To make it all spicier, there is also a blockchain layer. And the reason behind this is to help customers – both startups and mentors, navigate through the system and know who is credible or not. “If you receive a recommendation for a sales mentor, you could immediately see his or her traction and contribution to other companies and know whether they are worth the price they are offering”, Karamanchev explained why any transaction within the platform is stored and visible.
To make it all spicier, there is also a blockchain layer. And the reason behind this is to help customers – both startups and mentors, navigate through the system and know who is credible or not. “If you receive a recommendation for a sales mentor, you could immediately see his or her traction and contribution to other companies and know whether they are worth of being trusted with time and money”, Karamanchev explained why any transaction within the platform is visible and proof of progress.
When Karamanchev first conceptualized the Questups, it was meant to be an industry list of reputable mentors and startups, based on the token-curated registry (TCR) logic. The TCRs are decentralized databases or lists where all the stakeholders within a certain ecosystem could vote to put or remove an item from the list. The value of the lists comes from the decentralized way decisions are made – by the crowd, and not by one person. And of course, there is an interesting business model where everyone is incentivized to contribute. On the other hand, if a company or a person wants to be on the list, they should buy tokens from the platform to apply. The community would than vote that entry in and out betting their own tokens. “If an applying mentor is a scammer and the community votes him out, he would lose all the money he paid for tokens and it would be distributed to the ones who voted him out. In the case, he is not, and the majority votes him in, the challengers and those who voted against him, lose their bet. That’s a way to make everyone put their money where their mouth is, Karamanchev explained the logic.
Not all this, however, is the focus of Questups right now, as the profiling turned out to be a more appealing product with higher value proposition. “We’ve identified the inconsistencies in the development process of startups as a main issue of the ecosystem and I think Questups is just the right tool to tackle it. Through the platform we could import the much needed here product marketing and sales expertise from the US, while exporting CTO as a Service mentors for the global market”, he explained. The company has so far secured €25K of funding and is as Karamanchev would say one quest away from levelup to Queen of Clubs or in other words in its test phase.