For technology start-ups to succeed they need both technical and commercial support. Planet Innovation recognized few companies were providing both of these services. Framing this up as a design challenge for its business, Planet Innovation has built itself into a unique company focused on assisting entrepreneurs to commercialise new technology.
Planet Innovation prides itself on its ability to solve customer problems. We found however, that no matter how good our technical solutions, if our start-up customers lacked access to capital and commercial strategies they failed.
We delved deeply into the commercial gaps they lacked and then experimented by redirecting our own internal marketing, finance and strategy teams to help them fill those gaps. The results were immediate and over the next 9 months we trialed different commercial offerings before a winning combination of six key pillars was discovered. We call this commercial offering Pitch^Big, and it has helped over 20 start-ups raise capital and succeed where previously they may have failed
A major cause of product failure for start-ups is poor product-market fit. So the first pillar of our Pitch^Big strategy is our specialist voice-of-customer capability.
We have recruited dedicated specialists from around the world experienced in testing ideas in the market, not only to ensure good product-market fit, but to understand if the market is actually prepared to pay for the different features.
Our Market Insight offering draws from a range of tools and techniques including market assessment, customer journey mapping, in-depth interviews, focus groups, questionnaires and conjoint analysis. This service gathers authentic customer insights that deliver winning product and commercial strategies.
Planet Innovation’s product designers are experienced in bringing great design into real products. But when trying to determine a winning product design, you often don’t need to have developed a final product. Re-thinking how we can utilize new technologies in the design process, we’ve developed tools to help us test new product concepts faster. Building on our conceptual design, CAD and rendering, we now also utilize augmented reality, virtual reality and 3D animations to test ideas with users. These technologies are now frequently used as efficient ways to assess the market reaction to different product concepts without having to physically build anything, and are a key part of our Pitch^Big process.
Many start-ups are so focused with their technology, they ignore developing their brand.
Only when potential customers, partners and investors fail to take them seriously do they realise they have a gap. Rather than just wish them luck and hope they hire a good marketing team, we looked at ways of filling this critical gap for our clients.
Using our in-house marketing expertise, we have created a ‘lean-branding’ team that in a matter of weeks can produce a professional company name, brand, website & marketing material to build our client’s brand. This gives our clients instant credibility, with brands such as Nohla Therapeutics, Zen, Vitalic Medical, Nplex and more all created by the PI Lean Branding Team.
When trying to secure customers, partners and investors, entrepreneurs need a compelling business strategy long before they need a final product. Despite this, many start-ups we meet have large gaps in their business plans that often prove fatal.
Our research into successful start-ups revealed key elements of a winning business plan that we have built into a baseline ‘Pitch^Big slide deck that all start-ups must complete. It includes strategies around product, pricing, channel, capital, team and market opportunity. With this approach PI helped Zen Ecosystems launch into the USA in 2016. Zen is now a multi-million dollar business that has secured major contracts with giants Telstra, Comcast and National Stores.
Without adequate funding all start-ups, no matter how brilliant, will fail. While some are lucky enough to secure plenty of funding early on, most struggle to raise adequate capital. Recognising the need to assist our clients more in this area, PI has worked with a series of Angel investors, VCs and High-Network
Individuals to build this ‘capital raising’ capability internally. Strategic decisions include recruiting Teresa Engelhard and Ben Bergo onto our board, both highly experienced in this area.
We have also built strategic relations with brokers, funds and individuals who could help. By leveraging all the elements of Pitch^Big, Planet Innovation has helped raise over $45m for start-ups in just 18 months.
PI is a very different business today to what it was 18 months ago.
By clarifying our goal to be a company that helps start-ups succeed, not just help start-ups develop technology, PI has built a whole new ‘Pitch^Big’ capability that has helped more than 20 start-ups succeed, including Nohla Therapeutics, Zen Ecosystems, Vitalic Medical, Nplex, Sport Performance Technologies, BlueChiip, Niesm, Cynata, Specialised Therapeutics and Genea Biomedx.
The commercial services of Pitch^Big combined with our existing technology services has seen Planet Innovation more than double its 2016 revenue to over $35m and more than double head count to over 220 staff. This growth was made possible by listening to the market.