Avoiding the Summer Slump: How Deep Tech Founders Can Stay Ahead of the Curve

Beach in summer
Beach in summer
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Guest Post

By Mark M.J. Scott

President of Northern Pixels Inc.

 Many companies defer important decisions until after the summer, driven by the instinct to clear urgent tasks before taking time off. However, successful deep tech founders understand that delays during the summer can have cascading impacts on financing, development, and commercialization, potentially derailing milestones and leading to uncomfortable year-end board meetings. Here are some strategies to ensure your company surges ahead of competitors by early September.

Preparing for September Meetings

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Imagine walking into four critical meetings in early September: a client meeting, an investor meeting, a strategic partner meeting, and a board meeting. How prepared are you for these discussions? If you find yourself repeating the same points you made in the spring, it’s a sign that you haven’t made sufficient progress. To avoid this, prioritize what you need to communicate to each audience and focus on advancing these areas over the summer.

  • Client Meeting: Ensure you have updates on product development, customer feedback, and any new features or improvements. Clients want to see progress and innovation.
  • Investor Meeting: Investors will be looking for financial updates, milestones achieved, and future projections. Prepare detailed reports and be ready to discuss your strategic vision.
  • Strategic Partner Meeting: Highlight any collaborative projects, joint ventures, or new opportunities that have arisen. Show how the partnership is mutually beneficial.
  • Board Meeting: Provide a comprehensive overview of the company’s performance, challenges faced, and strategic plans for the next quarter. Transparency and preparedness are key.

Setting Summer Objectives

Quarterly objectives don’t take a summer break, and neither should your progress. Establish clear and reasonable objectives for the summer, recognizing that smaller teams will experience significant overlap of holidays. Ensure your leadership team is aligned on the same three objectives and insist on reviewing clear KPIs in the first week of September. This alignment will keep your team focused and productive, even during the quieter months.

  • Define Clear Objectives: Set specific, measurable goals for the summer. For example, aim to complete a certain percentage of a project or secure a specific number of new clients.
  • Align Leadership: Make sure all leaders are on the same page regarding these objectives. Regular check-ins can help maintain focus and address any issues promptly.
  • Review KPIs: At the beginning of September, review the key performance indicators to assess progress and make necessary adjustments.

Celebrating Leadership Performance and Autonomy

Startups and scale-ups thrive when they engage entrepreneurial, action-oriented, and autonomous leaders. Take the time to reflect on your leadership team and identify which members perform consistently across all seasons. Celebrating their performance and autonomy can boost morale and encourage a culture of continuous improvement.

  • Identify Top Performers: Recognize leaders who maintain high performance throughout the year. This can be done through performance reviews and peer feedback.
  • Celebrate Achievements: Acknowledge and reward the hard work of your leaders. This could be through bonuses, public recognition, or additional responsibilities.
  • Encourage Autonomy: Empower your leaders to make decisions and take ownership of their projects. This fosters a sense of responsibility and can lead to innovative solutions.

Summer Triggers Opportunity

Some of the most significant commercial breakthroughs occur during the quietest months. With fewer distractions, leaders can focus on exploring urgent fall challenges and developing innovative solutions. Additionally, media channels operate year-round, but there is less outreach during the summer. This presents an opportunity to fill general, business, and industry media channels with content – media wins can be reused throughout the year, capturing awareness that benefits your company long-term.

A Structured Summer, Begets a Successful Fall

By strategically managing summer activities, deep tech founders can avoid the costly consequences of a lost summer. Prioritizing key meetings, setting clear objectives, celebrating leadership performance, and leveraging quiet times for breakthroughs can ensure your company is well-prepared to surge ahead of competitors by early September. This proactive approach not only helps in meeting milestones but also sets a positive tone for the rest of the year, leading to more productive and less stressful year-end board meetings.

About the author:

Mark M.J. Scott is President of Northern Pixels Inc. a firm specialized in improving and accelerating the success of deep tech start-ups. Mark has played a leadership role in growing multiple deep tech successes, including a cryptography company acquired by AppDirect, an Optics and Photonics company acquired by Toyota and a pioneering Enterprise Low Code Application Platform, Truecontext, acquired by Battery Ventures in 2024. Mark was recently hired by the Quebec, Canada Government’s Quantum Innovation Zone, $435M funded, to devise a commercial strategy to bolster start-up success.

 

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