SaaS Startup Journey


The Journey

1. 1 Are you prepared for the journey?

1.2 Initial idea evaluation

1.3 Initial external gut check

1.4 Serving customers

1.5 Fleshing out the value proposition

1.6 Initial messaging

1.7 Market survey

1.8 Pitch to Pro-Forma Panel / Go – No Go Decision

2.1 – Initial go-to-market plan

2.2 – Initial revenue forecast [link to Revenue Forecast]

2.3 – Initial branding ($500 to $2.5k)

2.4 – Initial product architecture, e.g. tech stack strategy

2.5 – Initial prototype design [we could offer to do this through EVL]

2.6 – Initial MVP dev expense forecast [example: recommend UpWork]

2.7 – Second external gut check with customer waiting list

2.8 – Pitch to Pro-Forma Panel / Go – No Go Decision

3.1 – Refine go-to-market plan

3.2 – Refine prototype ($1k – $5k) [SaaS – clickable prototype, other examples]

3.3 – Refine launch messaging

3.4 – Refine launch branding ($500 – $2.5k)

3.5 – Refine MVP dev expense forecast and contractor(s)

3.6 – Initial Expense forecast

3.7 – Initial Employee forecast

3.8 – Initial Asset forecast

3.9 – Initial Cap Table forecast

3.10 – Third external gut check

3.11 – Refine financial model and Pre-Seed capital raise forecast

3.12 – Pitch to Pro-Forma Panel / Go – No Go Decision


4.1 – Establish legal entity ($500 – $5k)

4.2 – Finalize pitch deck inputs, including valuation, cap table, etc.

4.3 – Prepare for Pre-Seed raise (investor list, networking, etc.)

4.4 – Create data room

4.5 – Pitch investors (likely raise is $250k to $500k to build the MVP)

4.6 – Manage diligence process and negotiation

4.7 – Close the round


5.1 – Collaborate with engineers from step 3.5 to develop MVP

5.2 – Continued communication with customer waiting list from 2.7

5.3 – Launch MVP with beta clients to gain feedback

5.4 – Track and analyze all usage metrics

5.5 – Use all feedback to update the MVP design for Version 1.0

5.6 – Refine everything: user flows, app features, messaging, go-to-market strategy, financial model, CLTV metrics, and Seed Round forecast

5.7 – Finalize Version 1.0 dev expense forecast and initial hires/contractors

5.8 – Keep Pre-Seed investors updated frequently

6.1 – Update pitch deck inputs, including valuation, cap table, etc.

6.2 – Prepare for Seed raise (investor list, networking, etc., lean on Pre-Seed investors for intros)

6.3 – Update data room

6.4 – Pitch investors (likely raise is $2m to $3.5m to build and market Version 1.0)

6.5 – Manage diligence process and negotiation

6.6 – Close the round

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1. 1 Are You Prepared for the Journey?



The startup journey is fraught with difficulty, complexity, and landmines. The purpose of this initial step in the journey is to make sure you are prepared for what lies ahead. Every single entrepreneur would describe their journey as having many ups and downs with moments of utter despair. Most entrepreneurs have near-death stories of survival. And, many entrepreneurs have experienced their share of failure, including shutting down and losing everything, including years of effort and all of their personal savings.

An entrepreneur embodies a distinctiveness that sets them apart in the business world. What makes an entrepreneur truly exceptional lies in their unwavering determination, innovative thinking, and relentless pursuit of success. They tend to possess an innate ability to identify opportunities amidst challenges and taking calculated risks with conviction. 

An entrepreneur’s visionary mindset allows them to anticipate market trends and develop innovative – often disruptive – solutions that can revolutionize entire industries. With their unwavering passion, entrepreneurs navigate through uncertainty, embracing failure as a stepping stone towards growth. Moreover, their exceptional leadership skills inspire and empower teams, fostering a culture of creativity, collaboration, and resilience. Through their unwavering commitment, adaptability, and a relentless drive to create value, entrepreneurs bring forth transformative change, shaping the course of economies and inspiring generations to come.

The question of whether entrepreneurs are born with their entrepreneurial qualities or if they are developed through experience and circumstances remains a topic of debate. While some argue that certain individuals possess inherent traits and characteristics that predispose them to entrepreneurship, others believe that the entrepreneurial mindset can be cultivated and nurtured over time. It is undeniable that certain traits such as creativity, risk-taking propensity, and resilience can contribute to entrepreneurial success. However, it is important to acknowledge that entrepreneurship is a complex interplay of various factors, including individual qualities, environmental factors, and personal experiences. While some individuals may exhibit early signs of entrepreneurial potential, it is often through a combination of innate traits, learning, and exposure to entrepreneurial opportunities that one fully embraces the entrepreneurial path. Ultimately, the journey of an entrepreneur is shaped by a continuous process of self-discovery, skill acquisition, and adaptation, suggesting that while some individuals may have a natural inclination towards entrepreneurship, it is the combination of nature and nurture that ultimately defines an entrepreneur’s success.

After spending 30 years as a startup entrepreneur and investing in 100+ other entrepreneurs, this is my view of the 11 traits of the typical personality of a highly-successful entrepreneur.

  1. Confidence: You know yourself well and you are extremely confident around others, even when you are challenged
  2. Delegation: You know you cannot do everything, you recognize the expertise of others, you love teaching others, and you trust others even if they sometimes fail you
  3. Determination: You persevere through difficult, even seemingly insurmountable obstacles, you’ve been tested by many difficult circumstances and you know you can always survive
  4. Disruption: You are very creative, you love to take an existing idea or product and make it better, you want to constantly improve everything you do
  5. Commitment: You are prepared to do whatever it takes to finish anything you start and you are bothered when a task is not completed
  6. Knowledge: You constantly search for information, you love learning, you engage in active discussions about many topics, and you are a voracious reader
  7. Profit-Oriented: You often compare the value of products and services, you make decisions based on the value-add of any activity you engage in, and you hate wasting money
  8. Relationships: You are an extrovert and are very social and you love meeting and making new friends
  9. Communication: You are very comfortable with public speaking, you are a highly-engaging story-teller, and you can engage in almost any topic with anyone
  10. Risk: You instinctively know how to manage high-risk situations, you’ve taken many risks in the past, you’re ok with the fact that you’ve failed many times, you can laugh about your failures and articulate what you learned, you would much rather work for upside rather than a fixed salary
  11. Selling: You love selling and influencing others – you can convincingly win almost any argument