Product-market fit for an Asian data analytics startup
Refining product-market fit and developing go-to-market for accelerated traction
LynxKite is a complex graph analytics software that has uniquely strong product features, yet has struggled to find customers. The software was internally developed by Lynx Analytics, a data and AI analytics consulting firm, that used the product for a wide range of its consulting projects to create client impact. They realized that the product could stand alone, and thought it could be valuable for others as well, so they decided to try and bring it to market. Following attempts at both open source and direct sales business models, the team approached edUcate to support them in refining the product-market fit for their complex, yet feature-wise uniquely strong graph analytics software.
We conducted extensive research, interviewed team members, as well as Data Scientists and other experts in the field to gain a better understanding of the product and its marketability.
For a go-to-market strategy to work, the customer needs to have a problem that can be answered by a market-fit solution with a strong value proposition. In this case, we identified mismatches between value propositions, potential target users and go-to-market approaches: They tried to approach clearly different user segments, which resulted in problem definitions becoming blurry, and the appealing value proposition harder to articulate.
LynxKite’s product development approach was biased from the beginning. Although for developing a solution like this, deep market expertise is a must. That being said, even when deeply involved, it’s important to be able to step aside from your product from time to time in order to gain clarity. The startup made the mistakeof assuming other data scientists have the same work process they do.
Technically, from the feature side, LynxKite is rather impressive: tables can be turned into fleshed out graphs where connections are clearly shown and can even be segmented visually. The code learns inputs, meaning it does not have to run from the beginning each time, but rather only from the point a change was made. All this can be achieved with minimal coding; making it possible for all types of users to graph what they need.
Targeting two extreme end-users, whose behaviour and expertise differed too much, made them miss the opportunity of rounding out an appealing product for either group. We learned that even though the phenomenon of ‘citizen data scientists’ is becoming a trend, their abilities, behaviour and customer needs are different than previously assumed; many things are beyond their skill level. In the meantime,professional Data Scientists work differently- they’re comfortable in Python, and changing to a different environment is too big of a burden, no matter how impressive the program offerings are.
Based on our insights, we defined three potential suggestions for LynxKite to facilitate further growth.
(1) Avoid spending additional money on marketing efforts. This allowed LynxKite to save both effort and costs that would have predictably made little impact on sales.
(2) Find another company that can add to LynxKite, or add LynxKite’s functions to itself to become a cohesive complimentary unit that fits the market.
(3) Make LynxKite even more automated, so that the graph exploration solution discovery can be utilized by citizen users and be a complete automation vision by itself.
After considering these options, the key players chose to pursue the option of merging with another company to be able to fully meet the market need. To help prepare for acquisition, edUcate put together a detailed project backlog and crafted their pitch deck.
All tasks seemed daunting while the team was misaligned. As an outside perspective, edUcate was able to come in and highlight the importance of a well aligned team with a precise focus. In addition, we were also able to see and present the whole picture through a new set of glasses. We questioned everything, even when it seemed obvious and dug deep to bring fresh insights that could help facilitate the next steps. Once the new viewpoint was introduced, the team was having regular meetings and all members were on the same page, the go-to-market strategy that can fit neatly into this niche market came together well.