Case Study

Radar Startup: Scanning For New Markets

Startup Product / Market Fit

ADL helped a Series A radar startup from Silicon Valley create and execute its new market entry strategy as a bridge to its Series B round.  We identified over 55 new product applications of the core radar technology across 11 new sectors and qualified the applications by conducting 45 interviews with prospective OEM customers and industry experts. Ultimately, we distilled the option set down to three actionable opportunities. Along the way, we sourced and developed proposals for four non-dilutive funding programs to pay for product development and laid the groundwork for the first spin-out targeting one of the core sectors.

The Situation

A novel high-resolution radar and signal processing startup with a healthy patent portfolio faced constraints on its commercial potential due to its exposure to only one core sector with heavy consolidation

As a component provider, our client envisioned a future where its technology could be adapted to create a portfolio of revolutionary new applications across multiple new sectors – but, like many other startups of its size, it lacked the internal resources to identify, qualify and establish partnerships to execute these opportunities.

The company asked ADL to lead a deep investigation of next-generation sensory technology applications across a host of different sectors to build a full ecosystem of all its possible paths.

The goal: distill these findings into a realistic, actionable shortlist on which the company could execute for real revenue generation and Non-Recurring Engineering (NRE) agreements before its Series B raise. The scope included an evaluation of product-market fit scenarios, the competitive landscape and, most importantly, feedback from major prospective buyers en route to sourcing a first customer.

 

Our Process

 

ADL identified over 55 unique product opportunities for advanced sensor technology across 11 different sectors. We got there by starting with the concept of a Smart City, where a revolution is underway applying technology to improve a range of outcomes for both businesses and consumers alike and an environment where many large industry sectors overlap. We extrapolated use cases for high-resolution, low-latency sensor perception and object identification into multiple novel product applications based on ADL’s expertise in legacy sector corporate M&A priorities as well as user stories and investment trends.  

While a long list of “what could be” is helpful context for long-term strategic planning, a startup with limited resources must first define what is immediately actionable along with key outcomes. ADL’s role was not simply to create a purview into everything that was viable, but to recommend what the company should spend real dollars and resources on now to increase its industry exposure, secure OEM partnerships, improve its valuation and catalyze its future – optimizing near-term payback with long-term option value. 

To move beyond the baseline, ADL narrowed the list of opportunities using a regimented approach, blending the perspectives of the technology team, management team, company investors, and its potential customers. For each application, we began by establishing the classic core criteria of the problem, the solution, the market size, and the competitive advantage. To take it a layer deeper, we added consideration for the supply chain and level of effort in approaching each with a range of potential business models. As it is easy to regurgitate high-level market value figures, we brought a skeptic’s lens and continually focused on building our own unitized figures with comparable unitized economics to ensure bottom-up and top-down analysis of the market, before confirming each opportunity was large enough and open enough to warrant further investigation. 

As all future products carry some degree of risk, we engaged deeply with the company’s engineering team to ensure future-state product concepts were realistically achievable as natural evolutions from the existing tech portfolio. During this phase, we sought initial direct market feedback from a range of different corporate end-users to qualify our assumptions and tailor the application accordingly. 

All 55 cases were then evaluated in detail according to this matrix of criteria and refined into the top three applications that we recommended the company bet on. 

After a final internal vetting stage, we helped our client prepare for and execute its board presentation with the findings, achieve buy-in and open the door to a deeper, more extensive qualification phase – what we call “pre-BD”. For the top ideas, ADL built an extensive customer map, segmenting the list of prospective partners by each stage in the supply chain and the associated business model necessary to unlock the relationships. We then defined the types of decision-makers to engage with, built a contact database to serve as an initial landscape, created a series of product-specific pitch decks to introduce the startup effectively, and executed on a pre-BD framework to formalize interest.

Results

Sprint 1

  • 55 new applications in 11 new sectors
  • Insights from 45 decision-makers at mid- and large-cap OEMs
  • Five immediately actionable product opportunities
  • Board communications support
  • $1.9M in non-dilutive funding opportunities with 4 proposals delivered
  •  

In the first sprint, ADL delivered a comprehensive analysis of 55 new product opportunities over 11 new sectors with the potential to transform our client’s business. Along with value-added research, our findings allowed our partner to gain valuable knowledge about the best methods for entering different markets, the customers most likely to be receptive to their solution, and how each product opportunity could evolve over time with cross-sector linkages.  Using this base and insights into the unique conditions and goals of our partner’s business, we distilled the large opportunities ecosystem into five immediately actionable product opportunities. We bolstered this prioritization by conducting over 45 interviews with key decision-makers at mid and large cap legacy sector OEMs. As a bonus, we unearthed $1.9M in non-dilutive funding opportunities to help de-risk product development in these new sectors and helped create and submit four proposals in pursuit of these funds. 

Sprint 2

  • Five customer-facing pitch decks
  • Five customer ecosystem maps, each with 1,000+ key contacts
  • Replicable outreach strategy playbook for business development
  • Early partnership discovery yielding two potential NRE agreements between $150-$250K
  • Detailed business case study for one core sector with a spinout strategy
  • Helped company make substantial progress toward direct purchasing relationship with government agency

With the key opportunities identified, the priority became execution. As ADL is not a direct substitute for a recurring enterprise sales team, we were asked to act as a force multiplier for the management team in creating the framework for the partnership process and kickstarting pre-BD as a more critical discrete outcome.  In the second sprint, we built comprehensive databases of approximately 1,000 contacts for key decision-makers for each of the five top ideas, split according to each stage of the relevant supply chain. We then designed a process for outreach and conversion, including five customer-facing pitch decks. Our goal was to develop the framework so that it could be replicated and used by the company for any future product opportunities. ADL then jumpstarted the outreach process, conducting enough direct outreach to achieve early indicators of an appetite for co-development for the top solutions, generating two confirmed expressions of interest in NRE agreements of between $150-$250K to fund our client to develop the new products of interest.