In one of my trips, I heard a story from podcast about Halodoc founder; Jonathan Sudartha. He talked the story about his life before building Halodoc. He found a problem about lack of access to medical doctors in Indonesia when he started to learn about his family giant business before inherit it.
Born in a family that has a giant health and pharmacy business, Jonathan had to learn about how to continue his father’s leadership. He started from the lowest position in the company. He became a salesman that had to sell medicine through doctors. Jonathan had met thousands of doctors and learned about the critical problem of health industry in Indonesia which is patient’s access to doctor.
Jonathan’s experience and background represented that he was the right person to start making a solution like halodoc. We often call it the Founder-Market-Fit (FMF) in the startup world. Founder-Market-Fit is a set of parameters which embodied in a person that make him fit to solve some certain problems. FMF is the condition that makes us confident that we are the right person or the right team to run a startup.
Building a sustainable startup is a very challenging job. The percentage rate of failure is very high. From investor’s perspective, it is very hard to predict whether the idea or the team can succeed or not. Therefore, the founder who has FMF is a person that can make us convinced that his chances are higher than others.
There are some parameters that can manifest the FMF : Domain Expertise, Founder Personal Story and Technical Skill. If you can find a founder or a team that has all those combinations you could bet on them.
In early days of building your startup, you have to validate many assumptions. A founder that has enough domain expertise in one area could get advantage for those tasks. If you have domain expertise, then you probably have skill, experience and network in that domain.
Domain expertise not only can help you validate your idea, but also it helps you to find your early customers. If you don’t know at least 30 people in your personal network that relate with your target market, then it would be very hard to find your customers too. That is why you should start with your domain expertise when you want to figure out an idea for your first business.
I can relate this a lot in the financial technology domain. Having domain expertise is a must in a highly regulated domain like financial technology. Many successful fintech companies are founded by founders who already had years of business experience in financial industry from their past.
Founder Personal Story
A founder that has a mission driven in running his startup will push his effort harder than ordinary people. They usually have a personal story like coming from a very closely related condition with the problem that they want to solve. This personal story fires their motivation and drives themselves to achieve their mission.
In 500Startups Accelerator Program I know many founders who have very strong reasons why they are developing their startup. Wevorce; a startup that helps people to do divorce with fewer hustles comes from a founder that has past experience growing up in a broken-home family. The founder uses her personal story to share her company’s mission to their stakeholders.
Technical skill can be a powerful advantage for a founder in making their solution outstand their competitors. The best solution often comes from a skillful team who can create better solutions than existing solutions. The more skillful you are, the higher your chance to create the best solution.
Google is not the first search engine. Hence, their founders have a great technical skill to create better algorithms that outcompeted the existing search engines. SpaceX is not the first rocket company, but today they won over their other competitors by creating reusable rockets.
Those are some manifestations of FMF. If you want to be a startup founder, you could evaluate yourself to find what is the fittest domain that you want to enter. You have to find your Founder Market Fit. At the time you already fit with your market, it cannot guarantee your success but it can make your way easier to validate and to sell your product.