Venture capital investment hit an all-time high in 2020 before doubling in 2021 to a record-setting $675 billion. While it dipped slightly in 2022, it was still the second-highest year ever — meaning there is plenty of capital to fund innovation.
That’s great news for founders. However, the unprecedented amount of money sloshing around in venture capital right now means someone is definitely working on the same thing you’re doing. If your company is not competing with a startup business…you just don’t know it yet.
It’s crucial to understand that everyone has startup competition. If you’re not aware of your competitors, you can’t see them coming, can’t react to them fast enough, and they’ll beat you to the finish line.
No one wants to suffer the infamous fate of Kodak, a company that once dominated 80 percent of the photography market in the United States and went bankrupt when it refused to embrace the digital world. Examples are all around us — Robinhood disrupting brokerages, Stripe in payments, Bill.com in spend management — and these are the giants we all know about today.
There are hundreds of these companies being formed right now, waiting in the wings, securing their funding, gaining traction — all so they can come for your business.
Managing your startup competition
Even if you realize the world has changed and your company may be on the wrong side of progress, it’s not enough to just wish you operated more like a tech company, able to bring accelerated software products and services to market.
While self awareness is the first step, the real work involves adopting a product mindset.
Plenty of Fortune 500 companies want to function like Google or Amazon, but they’re still structured in old-world silos where brand managers don’t work with developers. At startups, by contrast, everyone works together. Legacy companies need to figure out how to replicate that synergy, except that many factors stand in the way. Too often, business leaders and technical teams at companies don’t talk to each other, leading to a fundamental disconnect within the organization. Addressing this critical gap through constant communication is the first step in a product-minded approach.
At Launch by NTT Data, we facilitate communication with a fast, flexible, and highly iterative approach that fixes today’s problems while adapting what works to fit tomorrow’s needs. We push you to outcompete the startups in your industry by asking:
- What if our approach placed great user experience at the start of the desired business outcome?
- What if we built in the flexibility to evolve and improve and grow from the start?
- What if happier customers and happier employees drove higher revenues and profits?
All these scenarios are possible (even probable) when business and technical people collaborate. Each team member offers a unique perspective that improves the product’s overall development. This is in contrast to traditional project management, which often concludes that something like agile software development is enough to achieve a product mindset. The agile manifesto is now 20 years old. And as important as the concepts are, they’re really just the first step.
Agile is a very developer-centered view of the world. But companies today must move further than agile to synthesize product and user experience.
There needs to be a product manifesto akin to the agile manifesto but much more extensive, especially on the user side of the equation.
Today, every company has to run itself like a tech company. Otherwise they won’t be able to keep up with the proliferation of startup competitors fueled by an astonishing amount of venture capital. Many organizations know this, or at least there are teams within them who are acutely aware. The challenge is galvanizing support — if not company-wide than at least among C-Suite decision makers — to make that transition.
Putting a product mindset into action
It’s all well and good to talk theoretically about product mindset advocates or open communication between disparate teams. But when it comes time to put them into motion, it can be hard to make these concepts into concrete plans — and even harder to turn those plans into the intended results.
At Launch by NTT Data, catalyzing change is what we specialize in. That takes many forms, each closely tailored to the client’s needs. But to give you a sense of how we help organizations overcome the obstacles blocking meaningful change and consistent innovation, consider our work with a major consulting firm. We developed a web app with a natural language processor to help new managers practice having difficult conversations before doing it in real life. Innovations like these, which we helped our client discover, design, and develop, help their firm stay on the cutting edge and maintain an advantage over the upstarts.
To keep your own advantage intact, it’s important to see the competition coming, be willing to change, and (most important) be able to act fast. Launch by NTT Data has plenty of examples of this mindset in action. Take a look at our case studies and then let’s talk about how we can help you take bold steps to stay ahead.