Hey – you believe in you.


Happy day of holding certain truths to be self-evident, at least this side of the pond. (And if America is in your anti-portfolio, thanks for humouring a few allusions.)

Whether rocketing to the Moon, manufacturing a safe light bulb, or constructing the Calcasieu River Bridge I drove over yesterday, engineers can depend on β€” or choose to ignore, a set of fundamental laws described by math and physics. (In fact the bridge is rated both structurally deficient and functionally obsolete. πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ )

Social engineers, and that includes us as founders, don't have that luxury. The truths we're betting on are based in slippery, unpredictable wetware: how people behave, what drives them, why they'll continue to behave this way, how many of them there are ...

The List is Long and Full of Terrors

And perhaps that's why, through an aphorismic cocktail of "Don't look down!", "Ignorance is bliss!", and cat poster "Believe!", we so rarely write them down.

Have you?

Eric Ries called these "Leap of Faith Assumptions", a title that embraces the act, the risk, and the lack of initial evidence.

When Summit began, ours were (copy-pasted from an October 2021 investor email):

  1. Professionals are eager and willing to learn how to use a new tool for building plans and models.
  2. Users will return frequently to adapt and update their plans and models.
  3. People with average spreadsheet skills will switch to Summit for building their plans and models.
  4. Summit can win over heavy/power users of spreadsheets for some types of complex analysis.
  5. Collaboration is a critical component of planning across teams.

Within 12 months, we had invalidated all five assumptions within the financial operations segment. Though painful, this gave us confidence to stomp out our campfire πŸ™ and relocate (pivot) our target market in late 2022.

What things, if true, will make your startup into a dream-fulfilling business? What things must hold true for it to be worth it?

The Broken Road

These assumptions aren't a scorecard, though it may feel that way. In practice they act as a highly prescriptive map to guide what you need to be testing.

And since testing should be the primary preoccupation of a startup, these statements set the directions and the boundaries of your seed-stage roadmap.

I know, I know, you want to build things. But why? πŸ™ Will this investment of our scarce resources gather more data on one of these assumptions? Will it enable us to learn that one of the pillars of our dreams is faulty? Will it teach us which pylon needs work?

You don't have cycles to waste.

What must be true?