Your startups (probably) don’t need capital

How do you know what the founders in your network or community need?

Ask any founder what they need most and they will say “capital.”

When startup founders are new at this innovation process, they tend to be fairly unsophisticated in their understanding and ability to articulate their needs. They are overworked, stressed, and scared their venture will fail. They know they can’t keep doing all of the things they’re currently doing and believe capital will solve this problem for them.

This makes your job tricky, too.

All of the startups you are working with are “early stage” but they need vastly different things at different times in their venture-building journey. Unfortunately, our industry does not yet have standardized language to describe stages. We can’t even agree on what things like “early stage” and “startup” mean.

At Fluent, we built The Fluency Score to solve this challenge.

Like a FICO Score for Startups, The Fluency Score algorithm measures innovative businesses* based on the risk in their business model development and assigns a data-driven, objective, standardized score that can be used to diagnose, describe, and compare companies.

In the simplest terms — The Fluency Score measures product/market fit.

Organizations that use The Fluency Score now have a sophisticated, fine-tuned tool to understand the current status of the startups in their network, to diagnose what they need to close the gaps in their scores, and to help their founders better articulate their progress.

How can your organization use The Fluency Score to diagnose your startups?

The Fluency Score measures startup business model and execution risk. It gives you a snapshot of the current risks in their business model and their approach to de-risking their business model assumptions.

When reviewing a startup’s Fluency Score report, you may discover that the reason they are struggling to scale is that they have not sufficiently de-risked their assumptions about the problem/customer they are serving. A gap in this part of their business model will increase the challenge of developing a repeatable, scalable sales process.

Or you may discover that a startup is not making the kind of progress you’d expect because they are not moving very fast or are unfocused in their execution.

One of the things I love most about The Fluency Score is the way it provides insights without judgment. There is no wrong Fluency Score. There is only what is true right now. Startups are messy, risky, and full of unknowns and gaps and recursive explorations. The Fluency Score doesn’t expect startups to have solved all of the problems or demonstrate “perfection.”

But the more we know about where those gaps are, the more the founders understand their business through this lens of business model risk and execution, the better we all get at building and supporting the growth of valuable companies.

Wherever there is innovation, there is risk. And if you are looking to fund that innovation, The Fluency Score can help you better understand and evaluate that risk.

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