Tracking Projects of a Startup Studio
Who the trackers are and what function they perform in startups. Tracker’s skills. What are the tracker’s methods and work results?
This term covers the founder’s personal work with a tracking specialist. During their systematic meetings, they analyze the current situation in a startup, work out problems together, and find ways to solve them. You can start tracking at any stage of a startup whether it’s the very beginning when the idea has just been coined, a project in an incubator, or an existing company.
Who Needs Tracking and Why?
Generally speaking, the main goal of tracking is to accelerate processes in a startup. Saving time means saving resources and money.
While working with the founder, the tracker takes them out of their comfort zone, suggesting that they look at the state of affairs from a different perspective. Rather than giving a founder a step-by-step guide to a perfect solution, a tracker helps a founder come to the right conclusion all by themself. Instead of sharing personal experience, the tracker shares specific knowledge in their field of expertise if it’s available. Say, the tracking professional might not be an expert in the startup market, but they understand the business structure and internal processes in detail.
A skilled tracker should be able to ask the right questions leading to the answers that will become the basis of a startup promotion strategy. But it’s always the founders who make the final decision to consider the tracker’s advice or keep doing it their own way.
In Admitad Projects, trackers cooperate with projects both in the incubator (internal tracking) and accelerator (involved specialists who work with our founders regularly). While the former are working on implementing ideas and launching products, the latter set scaling tasks, stimulate growth and liquidity.
Problems that a tracker can solve:
- developing and implementing ideas;
- determining company’s basic goals and strategy;
- initial product launch or pivot in an existing business to enter new markets or adjust positioning in old ones;
- scaling; defining new goals and building a strategy to achieve them;
- assessing the crisis and solving the existing problems step-by-step.
Even if the startup does not survive for internal reasons, its failure will become apparent faster with the help of tracking. Thus, the team will save energy and money without wasting resources on a hopeless startup.
Usually, a tracker is a businessman experienced in entrepreneurship or corporate management. They have high-performance management experience, and they know a way out of touchy situations. The richer the management experience (preferably in large corporations), the more valuable the specialist.
The profession itself has been created only a short time ago, so there are no uniform requirements for a tracker’s skills. This causes some skepticism among executives who believe that an outsider is unlikely to understand their business. But practice shows: you can’t go wrong with an impartial assessment of the current situation.
However, there are tracking schools that issue certificates to their graduates. But the certification is very local and only limited to how these schools understand the standards of tracking. Some successful trackers teach students privately.
Having completed the training or relying on their managerial experience, the tracker decides to work in an accelerator or incubator or begins an independent flexitime practice. Usually, a specialist supervises several projects at the same time.
How to Work with a Tracker
The standard tracking process begins with an introduction to a project. At this stage, trackers learn the specifics of the startup: its idea, product, milestone finance statistics, and other indicators of work efficiency.
During the first visit, the tracker gets to know the founder and asks them about the main problems that stand in the way of the company’s development. The tracker also learns what the team wants to achieve and in what time frame.
Together with the tracker, the project manager identifies the problem, develops specific ways to solve it, prescribes an action plan, and sets a deadline. Actions should be described in a specific and clear way, and there shouldn’t be too many steps. Such requirements help with understanding what actions were the most effective.
The time frame can go up to three months. However, the process is divided into weeks as it’s much easier to test hypotheses in a short term. Within a week, the project team tries to implement the plan and collects milestone statistics. During the next meeting with the tracker, the founder evaluates the effects of undertaken actions and sets the goal for the next week.
Tracking is not an ethereal philosophy based only on the experience of an individual specialist. Its success depends on the tracker’s communication skills and ability to ask guiding questions to help the founder find necessary answers and conclusions. Such work is based on the classic methodology.
While studying the project and communicating, the tracker launches the following chain in cooperation with the founder:
- determining the goal (what needs to be done for exponential growth);
- determining hindrances on the way to the goal;
- generating hypotheses to remove such hindrances.
After the cycle is completed, the tracker analyses the results, and the process is repeated until all hindrances are removed.
Trackers do not have any secret methods. They use standard product solutions and tools according to the situation. We can strongly recommend founders to start using them as well:
- Customer Development. The technique helps define the customers’ pain points. You need to segment the startup’s target audience and find the consumers who have cyclical problem patterns. After identifying the pain point, you start “treating” it.
- Traction map. It is a tool for structuring business activities. It allows you to clearly see the goals, the results obtained, and what stage of development the project is at. After that, it’s much easier to focus on what needs to be addressed first.
- Unit economics. By analyzing the results expressed in numerical form, it is easier to monitor the startup growth, determine the possibility and promptness of scaling. It also helps to find and iron out the kinks and bottlenecks so that the project develops without unexpected shocks.
- HADI cycles. It’s an effective technique for testing hypotheses and quickly screening out ineffective ones. The faster the testing, the swifter the goals are achieved.
The tracker’s work is usually evaluated in terms of the changes taking place in the project:
- positive result: the generated hypotheses turned out to be working, growth points were identified, the startup makes a profit and scales;
- negative result: a morass routine where no changes occur.
Situations when in the process of work it is established that the project is not viable is also considered a good result. This way, the startup is closed on time without pulling on the founders’ funds.
It is important to note that there are no numerical parameters to assess work performance. Since it’s the founder who makes the final decision, they can ignore the tracker’s advice when in doubt if such help would be useful.
To be fair, in most cases the founders still admit that the tracker was useful in structuring the team’s work and stimulate the startup’s acceleration. As an example, we asked for feedback from the founders that worked with trackers for a long time.
Alexandra Spivak, CEO of mooovie.ru: “During our interaction with the tracker, there were two cases when he helped the project greatly. The first one was when he completed the team with a specialist that we needed. The second one was when he helped focus our activity in the most relevant direction.”
Anyway, whatever opinions may arise about tracking, our studio believes that involving the tracker is a useful practice that shows positive numerical results. Regular meetings force teams to think big and act purposefully.