The Full Stack Growth Cycle
Some time at the end of 2016, I had to plan and conduct a "go-to-market" for a technology startup in California. The goal was millions of online product downloads in a 350 million market amidst intense competition.
I was full of ideas, equipped with the best data mining tools in the world that were developed in the office in San Francisco next to me, while I was surrounded by the world’s most respected mentors, investors, and consultants. Those who have been involved in building the world’s most valuable technology companies like Facebook, Airbnb, Twitter, Yelp, just to name a few.
So, all the necessary resources were provided for a successful entry and rocket online growth.
However, I was not alone with this. Meanwhile, I was surrounded by hundreds of super-talented startups trained in the best schools and supported by investors.
Some of them were very successful, but most of them didn’t make it by the next round of investment.
I asked myself, how can this happen?
Why is it that some startups are successful with the same opportunities while others are not?
I knew I felt it if I find the answer to that, then whatever I do in the online space, it will be successful. That’s why I’ve assessed my entrepreneurial experiences from many industries over the last eighteen years, with all my successes and failures, and successes compared them with others. For months, day and night, I was just researching, reading, and interviewing others to find handrails, patterns, and building blocks for successful online entry and growth.
One day everything clicked into place. And I have defined the framework of a scalable, repeatable and sustainable growth.
How effective is this?
While some can only achieve short-term successes, those who use my framework succeed in their long-term sustainable growth achieving their goals sequentially in the long run.
I called this framework the Full Stack Growth Cycle.
And now, I will introduce this to you.
According to the framework, data provides guidance for successful go-to-market and after for the growth. It works very much like the game theories known from chess, which are also a series of data-driven steps. Just like this. If you follow the steps recommended by the framework, you will always achieve the goal you've set.
I would like to illustrate how this works by an example.
Let’s take an example of an online entrepreneur today who wanted to sell sugar-free sweets and wanted to build himself online. As I'm telling you the example, imagine the processes regarding your own business. One day, a friend of mine home-made a sugar-free cake for his child’s second birthday that tasted particularly good. Parents loved it too. In addition, it looked gorgeous. He thought he could sell a lot of that. So, he took a nice photo of the next cake, and a little video of the production process then posted it on Youtube. He also posted the photo on a food delivery App and eventually made a website for himself.
Everything was very stylish, his Facebook friends liked the design as well.
One day, our guy launched his online business. He boosted his start with some Google ads, so people started placing orders. Everything seemed cool.
And that’s when the drama came.
It took two months until he found out that the cake melts above 25 degrees, so shipping requires special packaging. It turned out within a short period of time that shipping outside the local is just making loss 'cause the price of honey has doubled too. When only one order came in one week, the next week there was a hundred.
All in all, our entrepreneur spent two months preparing and paying nearly ten thousand dollars to the designer, website developer, for raw materials, packaging, monthly fees, and to the logistics companies. The fancy online business generated a loss. So let's say, our entrepreneur has paused his online business for a while.
Of course, all of this could have been avoided if our hero would have used the Full Stack Growth Model framework. And now, let’s see how he could make it by using the framework?
The prerequisites for any successful online entry and growth are:
A product that we can earn revenue from. You need at least one, but as many enthusiastic people as possible who have the knowledge, abilities, and relationships that are valuable to your business. Finally, there needs to be a market full of customers.
How does all of this work?
Replace the market entry requirements with the Why, How, and What questions in the following order. the market is Why team or people is How and the product is What.
The answers to these three questions are the core of business growth. The core of the business behaves like the core or seed of an apple. The juicy, succulent fleshy middle layer and the attractive red peel develops from the core. Ultimately, the quality of the core determines what the apple will be like in the first place.
And now, through the example of our confectioner, let’s answer these questions:
It's very important that following the growth model, we do not make a product and look for customers, but instead, you need to discover a need or desire in the market. One that's expressed in the customers, and then provide a solution with your product. To make it happen, you need to start with the answer to WHY. That’s the origin of everything. You will see that until you can’t answer WHY to buy your product or service, you will not be able to find a convincing argument, you will not be able to effectively communicate that addition, the added value you represent. Therefore, customers will not trust the product in the long run because you can’t tell WHY they should buy your sugar-free cake instead of another competing product?
We have known the psychology of shopping for a long time and we know that people never buy your products based on what you do but based on why you do them.
The WHY is the thing that you will be communicating to your customers, partners, suppliers and in all your marketing material online. The WHY is the motivation that differentiates you from the competition on the market. WHY is what you can communicate online, for example, under the sections “About me” or “My Mission”.
It's not always easy to word WHY in such a way that customers can identify with it.
An entrepreneur reaches his WHY through exploring the need: why he has created the product or service that he offers today. The higher the demand for the product, the more specific and stronger the need was. Therefore, our confectioner must also research and analyze his own story and memories and be able to articulate the challenge that started him on this way,
what motivated him to create the product, to make the cake.
Research and analysis have valuable results when our confectioner formulates the WHY. The why that sets him apart from others on the market.
In this example, it is the following:
“One day before my baby’s two-year-old birthday, it turned out that his blood sugar level was high, so sugar is poisonous to him. But the cake was supposed to be done by the next day. Every shop was closed. So I started cooking it myself. Instead of sugar, I made a cake that was immediately gone, and not only children, but even parents couldn’t resist. Since then I have made fifty of the same cake to the others of similar age in the neighborhood”
And by stating this challenge, that is, the WHY, Our entrepreneur has also set out the main purpose of his business, which is to use his product to surprise 1,000 diabetic kids a year on their birthday. This will be the goal of the confectioner and the mission of the business.
That's true that there are always two steps to find the WHY. These are the steps of Research and Analysis. Ultimately, the Mission, the Purpose and the Why are born.
When we can word the WHY. it’s time for execution.
Next, our hero needs to be able to tell us exactly what cookies he will make and how?
HOW are the expertise, the ability, and the networks of people who have anything to do with the product and the business. They can be moms and dads who might give the starter capital, friends who give encouragement, accountants, lawyers, government agencies and offices, raw material manufacturers, website developers, marketers, copywriters, photographers, competitors and so on. All the knowledge, abilities, and relationships that come together in these people. We have to have a list of this.
We need to know who will code the website, who will design it, who will get the licenses, who will sign the contracts, and so on.
This is called a competency map in the model.
So WHAT does our confectioner sell in the end, what is the size of the cake, what the end product looks like exactly and why? Where, how and at what price will it be available?
An online competitor analysis will be able to provide an exhaustive answer to these questions.
The size, color, appearance, taste, price, availability, name, and packaging of the cake.
All of this is the detailed answer to the WHAT question, that is, what will the end product, the cake, be like?
And with that, we answered every question that is a prerequisite for a successful go to market.
Importantly, the Full Stack Growth Model has a fixed sequence of steps that describes an infinite signal. Because we need to repeat the same steps for each additional communication step to pull out scalable, repeatable and sustainable growth.