The StartUp Value Chain: Where Do You Fit In?

February 11, 2024 3 mins read
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In every industry, competition is a race for value capture across the value chain.

Dear Reader,

The founder journey demands a profound understanding of your startup’s place in the ecosystem. The (non)linear path between solution success and customer success is mapped via the Value Chain. (𝕏 Tweet This)

It’s often ignored because it’s tough, but the journey from Founder to CEO is all about tackling the hard things.

TLDR; The Value Chain maps the critical path from when a customer identifies a problem to their ultimate success, highlighting key roles, technology, processes, and challenges. Download Workbook



There’s a monumental difference between your solution working and your client achieving success, and a vast gap between a problem’s origination and your solution’s intervention. The StartUp Value Chain helps you visualize where your solution fits in the ecosystem, including prerequisites, dependencies, and the friction points to you even getting a shot.

SU001.5 The StartUp Value Chain aka Where do you fit in by James Sinclair

In A Nutshell:

Identify the Origination: Understand the root causes and circumstance leading to the customer (not)recognizing the problem.

Map the Journey: Outline the steps from problem origination to your solution’s intervention, to the goal or end-state you aim to achieve.

Assess the Impact: Identify the immediate (solution) and extended (company) impact of your intervention.

Reflect on Changes: How your intervention transforms the value chain, including the shift in technology, budget, people, and operational dependencies.

Why You Care:

Adjacent Positions: See beyond your product’s immediate functionalities, looking to the right and left of your solution.

Identifying Opportunities & Frictions: As you talk through the left and right, it allows you to spot inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and innovation opportunities.

Strategic Alignment: Helps align your go to market decisions with the customer reality, enables a cohesive development, marketing, and sales strategy.

Client Success over Solution Success: Shifts focus from making a product that works to creating something that delivers the meaningful client outcomes you need for retention/expansion.

This is a guide, a starting point for you to critically think, to reflect, to be challenged, to explore. Make it yours.

As always, you are welcome to grab time with me.

— James

(LinkedIn | Twitter | Tiktok)​

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