When a startup raises a Series A,
nearly everything changes.
Take product roadmaps for example.
For the seed stage startup, responsiveness and agility are how you survive. Getting customers and keeping customers is job one. Meanwhile the product is pretty immature. So you’re “filling in the gaps” and prioritizing features with immediate customer impact. You’re generally planning in weeks, not months or quarters. Roadmap predictability feels like a distant luxury.
After raising a Series A, things start to change. Roadmap predictability takes an elevated position in the hierarchy of needs. The team generally wants 12 months of visibility and high-confidence plans for the next quarter.
Here’s what drives the shift:
1. The employee count doubles or triples. No longer is everyone sitting in the same room. Communication gets harder. Large changes cause organization whiplash and come at a much higher cost. Having in-quarter predictability and a clear (directional) picture of the next year helps keep the team aligned.
2. Processes mature and the company “grows up.” You’re preparing for scale and scale requires systems, structures, and processes. Also, employees that join at this stage expect a certain level of order and focus. They know its not IBM, but they also didn’t sign up for a wild west startup either. This expectation of predictability and longer-range planning seeps into all parts of the business, including the product roadmap.
3. The number of customers grows. This makes the old style of prioritization much harder. You need to replace customer request lists, with strategies and product plans that are informed by holistic understanding of customer needs. You’re focused on a cohesive product strategy and customer segmentation, not just “filling gaps” as before. This pushes the product team into multi-quarter strategic planning as they work to systematically address important needs.
This isn’t an exhaustive list.
But it is a good list of common patterns you can anticipate when joining a Series A startup.
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