When founders first sketch out that disruptive idea they know will change the world, the furthest thing from their minds is the practicality of what it will take to fully disrupt the market. Climbing the “Idea Hill,” which could be described as a decathlon inside a steeplechase embedded inside a marathon, is not for the impatient or unconvinced. Even for the founder that is working on their second unicorn or fifth startup, the steps are the same. When coding up their secret sauce while heads down, the necessary talents are too often still to be contemplated. This startup time is a serious euphoric high of endorphins that allow superhuman development efforts, long hours and innate ability to pitch friends and family for seed money.
But every energy drink is metabolized over time and new energy, ideas, and skill sets are required to keep the ball moving. As a founder, this can be the first real pivot point -- build or buy, take on another hat of responsibility or ask for help. Whether a rookie or a founder veteran, there is often no shortage of people with advice, including from investors. Approaching the go-to-market stage of the race involves a great deal of poise and perspective that comes with experience.
More and more startups, either through self-awareness or sage advice from an investor, are seeking out startup incubators. Rather than relying on the classic lean-startup methodology, there is a way to lean into a more modern tactical alternative. An incubator is comprised of seasoned mentors who can hit the ground at a full run to strengthen the team. They bring the necessary tools that bridge the gaps necessary to traverse from seed to an A round. Whether that means a bottoms-up or a top-down approach, or both, the climb is best undertaken with the right tools, experience, and leadership. An incubator is in no way meant to supersede the founders but lighten their load to enable everyone to go faster.
One such incubator is SPJ GTM, a full service, full stack team that knows how to pick up the ball and navigate the barriers, blockers, and holes that stand in between idea and market success. They collectively bring more than five decades of experience taking ideas to market through honing the product, establishing the brand, customer validation, driving sales and ultimately profitability. Most recently, SPJ GTM brought a company called Armorblox to market. Specifically, SPJ GTM was able to assist Armorblox from stealth to A-Round and secure the first pilots and deals, activate the sales channel, and finally set up for the SPJ GTM backfill with a full-time in-house team to drive long-term growth.
Armorblox uses deep learning and natural language understanding (NLU) to analyze all textual data and associated metadata to protect organizations against attacks. Their innovative approach to providing enterprise quality cybersecurity necessitated a new strategy for coming to market. Their capabilities are superior to the community of AppSec solutions and, rather than risk being grouped together, they reached out to SPJ to craft a better story and vector. Steve Erbst and PJ Johnson (the names behind SPJ) and their partners and principles provided leadership skills including sales, account management, and lead generation all while Armorblox was in stealth mode. SPJ’s collaboration led to the on-boarding of three channel partners, revenue customers, and a technical recruiting pipeline. Armorblox has since landed a highly sought after Security PR Executive, traditional marketing, web development, and content marketing that include quotes, pilots, and videos...all courtesy of the SPJ network and GTM approach.
SPJ GTM is more than just an incubator. In March they announced their CIO and CISO Ambassador Network to provide that additional layer of mentoring and peer recommendation for SPJ portfolio products. When a startup needs the gravitas of recommendation for their solution, having in-market CIOs who have actually tested the products in live scenarios and then put their name behind the product, is the force multiplier every startup needs. To go one step further, SPJ and The Tony Scott Group have announced a strategic affiliation. Collectively they offer early-stage entrepreneurs an accelerated path to scale, not just through the normal tech segments but also established enterprise, and as a differentiator, government contracts. Enabled by a combination of SPJ battle-tested go-to-market skills, and Tony Scott, former federal CIO for the Obama administration, the partnership can and will open doors beyond what even the best in-house teams can do in lean startup mode.
The first event of the new partnership was held at the recent RSA conference in San Francisco where the SPJ and Tony Scott Group hosted C-Suite and other executive leaders in a private setting where they were able to meet one on one with those founders and backers from the SPJ portfolio. A recap of the event can be found here.
SPJ brings the dexterity and experience startups need -- the success that comes from preparation, opportunity, and never skipping steps. Check out additional SPJ services on www.spjgtm.com.