Circularity and Error Correction
Product market fit is an infinite regression. In a bootstrapped company you shouldn’t build a product until you have a market and you cannot find a market until you build a product. Crossing the product market chasm means negotiating between the prospective product and market. This approach doesn’t seem unreasonable. Which is not the same as reasonable.
This circularity can result in building something that isn’t a product and pitching it to someone who isn’t a market. In September, 2019, in a NYC WeWork conference room at Tabb Group I showed Larry Tabb an idea in the form of an immature web application. Larry’s response was the first sign we could find product market fit.
When you’re building something from nothing, a sign is encouraging.
Since receiving this sign, Point Focal, the portfolio analytics firm I founded, has gone from idea to product to revenue. We are not yet viable and we have not yet failed. A recurring thought of mine is that waiting for the story to end before writing the story would be an error.
Error-correction is learning. This prose is an effort to error-correct. And to learn.
SaaS financial technology is to product market fit as writing online is to publisher subscriber fit. The pub-sub-fit circularity implies you cannot write to an audience that does not exist and you cannot have an audience if you do not write.
To find portfolio analytics customers, build.
To find an audience, publish.
Portfolio Reporting and Focus Signal
Portfolio Reporting is the product born from the engine in our analytics stack. It integrates alternative data with custom portfolios to produce quantitative insight. We believe it is the future of institutional research. Automatic, alt-data-driven, custom intelligence. Produced with leverage from code, media, and capital. Mostly code. Some media. And very little capital.
Leverage creates scale. And scale enables a seven person startup to compete with the world.
The Portfolio Reporting engine is designed to surface insight.
This Focus Signal Substack has the same purpose.
Content here will span two categories:
Building a fintech SaaS company
Mark Twain said “fiction must be plausible, truth needn’t be”. What happens at Point Focal could not be made up. Such is the environment when choosing a pursuit with a high failure rate and a constant threat to survival. Each day Point Focal does not fail is a day that can be framed in two ways.
A day that in hindsight will appear to have been extending an inevitable demise.
And a day closer to viability.
Time will tell.
Point Focal’s portfolio analytics are built for PMs, traders, and analysts in U.S. equity markets. Our content spans market behavior, venues, ESG, earnings estimates, news sentiment, and performance. We make sense of this data and overlay it on portfolios.
To understand something entirely, write about it. I want to understand Point Focal, entirely. If Focus Signal is effective, it will help Point Focal error-correct and learn while it still matters. Following along may help you error-correct and learn too. And it may also be entertaining.
But these second order outcomes and any semblance of an audience, should either materialize, will be the consequence of openly writing for one.