Sense is a startup that helps staffing companies in evaluating their employees. Staffing companies provide employees for jobs that are in the category of light industrial and general staffing, which provide an hourly salary of around $10 to $20. These staffing companies are concerned with questions like: Who will show up for a job that they accepted? Who will complete that job? The problem that staffing companies are facing is that 30% of employees are not showing up for their first day of the job and 50% of employees are not completing the job that they started.
In order to successfully innovate in Silicon Valley, it is important to listen to your customers. What are their pain points? Is there a common theme among these pain points? It is a lot more beneficial to actively listen, instead of talk. Not listening leads to a product that customers might not even want. The people that fail are the ones that have an idea and want to force that idea to a problem. This problem might not even exist. It is important, however, to know what customers mean by the things that they say. A good quote from Henry Ford applies very well here: “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.”. So, it is important to transfer what they customers say they want into what they actually want!
Unlike for most other companies, this section on process will focus on how to start with an idea not within a company, but without even having a company. How did Sense get from the idea to the product?
It is important to narrow down your idea. Has anyone done something similar in an adjacent industry? How did they do it? After that, to further narrow it down, choosing a vertical is another important step.
Furthermore, leveraging your network is a key to success in Silicon Valley. Sense presented the first ideas with a PowerPoint, for example, and it only takes one influential person to like the idea to raise funding to get from ideation to execution. Having a plethora of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists is a major benefit of starting a business in Silicon Valley.
Similar to other companies, the North Star metrics are revenue, burn and other related metrics. However supporting metrics lead to these metrics. So, a clear metric for Sense is: How much talent is being touched in a month? There are 140 million workers in the US. 20-30 million touched in a month would be good. This metric also leads to their pricing model!
The Cluster Advantage
According to Sense, co-opetition really is very prevalent in Silicon Valley. Everyone is trying to push each other, like Uber and Lyft, x and y. Just like in high school. Who is going to Stanford, who is going to Harvard? But on top of competition, co-operation is also an important factor that contributes to the flourishing businesses here. You can drop an email or a text to someone for coffee and they will meet!
Most investors get the market size for a new company wrong. New companies often do not just take a part of an existing market, but CREATE a market!
“In Silicon Valley, you never sign an NDA. If someone wants to do that, you just walk away.” Anil Darni, CEO/Founder at Sense Talent Labs, showing how important trust is in Silicon Valley