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KPI Tracking and Growth

When you ask founders why they want to join an accelerator program they usually only give two answers. First is the access to mentors and investors, followed closely by the fact that they want help with growth. It’s an area that most founders struggle with. Growth in a startup not only has the biggest impact on their business but also their likelihood of a successful fundraise . To that end, we start by helping the founder understand,  track and measure their KPIs and finally run experiments to activate growth.

Easier said than done of course. Most early-stage startups don’t know their KPIs. They have limited data sets and they’re generally awful about tracking things. So we have to roll things back a bit and help them simplify in this regard. This is done by forcing them to pick and focus on one main KPI (key performance indicator). In startup-land, we also sometimes called this OMTM or The One Metric that Matters. This is great for use in an accelerator program because in a short program you don’t have time to help them improve *all* their KPIs. Better to just focus on a key driver that impacts the business and/or will present well at the upcoming Demo Day.

I recommend having each company’s POC (point of contact) establish this KPI during the first sit down meeting during the program. In some cases, founders will know which metric they want to pick and in others, you’ll need to coach them on. During that meeting, or as part of the onboarding, provide them with a shared Google Sheet. You can download the template for this at http://accelerator.guide.

To start they enter their OMTM as specifically as possible. It should be highly measurable and preferably a metric that can be influenced during the program.

Examples of good accelerator OMTM:

Examples of bad accelerator OMTM:

  1. Enterprise sales contracts (takes too long)
  2. Government contracts (takes even longer!)
  3. Facebook fans (vanity metric)
  4. Press hits (takes long and is unpredictable)
  5. Amount of code shipped or new products launched (hard to measure)

Next, have them enter exactly what this metric is today. You may find in some cases founders don’t even know the data point! If so, help them to locate and be able to measure this KPI more effectively. We also want them to predict what the metric will be at the end of the program. As a word of caution, it’s actually very hard to effect any metric even in a 3-month long program. Things always take longer than you would expect and don’t forget the founder will be busy with the other curriculum you have planned for them. So here’s a chance for both POC and founder to be realistic in their forecasting.

Finally, we also give the founder the option to enter in some other goals. These should be more about qualitative goals and personal development. These goals also give the POC something to talk about during each sync meeting and for the founders to share with each other during the weekly group KPI review session.

Here’s a version of the template:

Company name: <startup name>
KPIProgram StartProgram End
<Insert metric name (OMTM)><add metric today><what you expect metric to be when the program ends>
   
Results  
   
Other Goals<insert your qualitative goals> 
 <insert your qualitative goals> 

Once completed it might look something like this:

Company name: Sassy SaaS Thing Inc.
KPIProgram StartProgram End
Weekly free user signups100 Weekly Signups200 Weekly Signups
   
Results  
   
Other GoalsSetup a better CRM 
 Learn Google Adwords 

The above examples are meant to be public, shared documents across all founders in the batch. This is both for easy management but also to encourage some transparency between batchmates. You shouldn’t have any companies in a single batch who are competitive with each other. At the same time, these early-stage startups don’t really have secrets valuable enough to not be shared with the group. At least not when it comes to their current metrics.

So as the weeks go on we use the same sheet, creating a column for each KPI sync meeting that occurs. During the meeting, this sheet is put up on a projector and each founder presents his or her tab separately. After each presentation, there’s some time for the program staff to provide feedback. Be sure to also solicit the batchmates to contribute here as well. It’s a great way to get some cross batch collaboration going.

Company name: Sassy SaaS Thing Inc.
KPIProgram StartKPI Sync 1KPI Sync 2KPI Sync 3KPI Sync 4Program End
Weekly free user signups100 Weekly Signups    200 Weekly Signups
       
Results 105120145175 
       
Other GoalsSetup a better CRMDONE   
 Learn Google AdwordsDONE