Mayfield Partner, Arvind Gupta led a session at TechCrunch Disrupt 2022 where he shared insights into creating built to last human and planetary health startups. Here are some key takeaways:
Define your keystone problem
When building companies that aim to tackle some of humanity’s biggest challenges, it’s easy to get distracted by the noise of endless problems that need to be solved. Focus on one keystone problem and ignore everything else. When working to solve your keystone problem treat your first product as if it were your last and ensure you can demonstrate a high surface area of impact. Arvind warns that the risk vs reward ratio becomes difficult for investors to justify if startups are not addressing a large enough market, so keep TAM in mind when visualizing your product and deciding which problem to solve.
Company building is a team sport
In turbulent markets the highest quality teams come out on top. Founders should concentrate their efforts on attracting an all star team, including expert advisors, to help them navigate the long and winding road of company building. It’s important to acknowledge your own areas of weakness quickly and hire a team that complements your skill set.
Human and planetary health founders often find it difficult to evolve from scientist to CEO, as succeeding as a founder requires a different skill set and mindset compared to academia. Founders have to understand both the science side and the business side in order to galvanize their team around the core mission and ultimately build iconic companies.