I'm an angel investor and startup advisor with a background in growth and product management – Brianne KimmelFeatured

Hi, I’m Brianne Kimmel. I’m an early stage investor and startup advisor with a background in growth & product management. I help companies with product-led growth, monetization and go-to-market strategy. I previously worked on the go-to-market team at Zendesk focused on product-led growth, technology integrations (Zendesk Apps) & built Zendesk for Startups.Prior to Zendesk, I led international projects at Expedia including building a new product in China and I was the first marketing hire at Revl (YC W16).I’ve taught over 5K students at General Assembly & advise venture-backed startups in Silicon Valley. In my free time, I write about the future of work and serve as a Network Leader for Village Global. Ask me anything about go-to-market strategy, acquiring early users, finding angel investors, or anything else related to early stage startups. I recently wrote this blog post about how to build your first GTM strategy. Follow me on twitter: @briannekimmel
I am currently working on building a website that makes it easier to find women's professional sports to attend. I'm hoping to launch the MVP in a few months. What are the most important things to think about when launching the first version of your product? Any common mistakes to avoid?
Very cool! I'm a huge sports fan: basketball, boxing, cycling.For the MVP, I would make sure to cover the basics: - Start collecting emails (Mailchimp integration for Wordpress is a good starting point) - Create a plan to increase site visits (ie: engage existing sports forums and communities) - Keep doing user research: find out where there is whitespace in the market. What's missing from current sports communitiesLooking at long-term goals: - Will this be user-led? Can individuals create team pages, user profiles and upload events? - Will this ultimately have a booking component or will you link to Ticketmaster, Eventbrite, etc.- Will you build a community? ie: Can women connect with other women to attend events? Will there be comments & discussion?
Thanks so much, Brianne! This is really helpful. Definitely going to start collecting emails! Your points about figuring out the long term goals are super smart too. Thanks for taking the time to respond, I really appreciate it. I'll send you a link when it's live!
Thanks Caitlin! Keep me posted, happy to share with women in my network.
I have a shortlist of Angels who I'd love to have as part of my investor team. I've recently begun raising friends + family and have it in my head that I shouldn't approach them until I'm further along. Though, it also makes sense to me to establish a relationship and understand specifically what they're looking for to see if there's a potential fit. Do you think it wise to reach out to them and ask how I'd know that my company was ready for their consideration?
I would start building the relationship now. Especially with angels who are CEOs or active operators, it will take time to get to know them. I love when founders message me and ask if they can add me to their investor update. It's a low-touch way to learn more about the company.
Excellent. I'm glad I reached out to you :-) Will have an update for you next week!
I'd love to learn more about your angel investing strategy and what you look for as a network leader @ Village Global. How do you personally evaluate a company / pitch deck, and when do you know at its very earliest stages that a company is worth investing in versus just "looks great on paper"?
As a Network Leader, I co-invest with Village Global and support B2B companies in the portfolio. I personally invest at the Seed or Series A round when companies have some traction and go-to-market is a top priority. I love companies that have a self-serve product experience and a bottoms-up sales motion. When evaluating founders, I look for highly technical founders with a unique ability to hire.
Curious as to how much information you think should be included into a teaser deck (with warm intro and/or cold email).
Great question, the YC Seed Deck template is a good starting point. Keep in mind, angels are typically operators who are busy. A concise deck with specific asks is really valuable.
Many thanks, Brianne! I've been told by a few people not to include the money slide before meeting in person. Thoughts on that?
I'm the co-founder of a B2B2C platform that connects travelers based on shared interest in trips. Trips are posted to the marketplace both by users (e.g. road trip to Monument Valley, seeking 2 more) and professionals like tour providers. Our goal is to make it easy for anyone to find and vet a group to travel with, independent of the availability of friends and family.As an early-stage angel, what is the perception of using non-scalable methods to drive initial sign-ups (e.g. events)? In other words, is it more important to generate 'success stories' (in our case, shared trips) or establish metrics like 'CAC through paid advertising', which we can show are repeatable?
Hi Cassie,For the B2B component, the way you engage with trip planners and tourism groups will look more like SMB Sales. Early on this will not be scalable, however you'll start to find efficiencies over time. On the consumer side, it's still early and you'll like test a number of acquisition channels both scalable (FB/IG, SEO, SEM) and non-scalable (events, partnerships). Angels like to provide more than just capital, so I would prioritize investors with relevant experience either in travel, transactional business models w/ highly episodic use cases, etc. They can support you in terms of ways to test both and ultimately create systems and processes to make the unscalable more efficient and scale the more predictable channels.
Thanks so much Brianne! This is very helpful. I've started building a database of SMB tour operators and educating myself on how to construct sales pipelines for both sides (as well as seeking out those with far more experience doing so!)
When you think about different stages of product development towards PMF, it probably goes something like: user interivews/problem discovery, ideation on solution, MVP w/ some beta testers, iteration of that MVP with beta testers, and then *v1/final* version where you release to public (assumimg you have validation around the solution in general), then ideally iterate until you hit pmf and then scale.1/ At what point in the journey, do you want to utilize resources like PR, Product Hunt, etc vs more hands on ways to get users (like commenting in FB groups, reddit, answering Qs on Quora, etc). For example, a part of me wants to try to launch on PH or get PR, but I still feel like I'm a bit too early -- but I also know people using higher-volume distribution channels like that super early even pre-MVP2/ If a consumer product startup hired you and your goal was to get it's first10,000 users, how would you approach making a plan for that? What questions are you asking yourself? 3/In figuring out pricing, how do you recommend getting data points on that early on especially balancing that you want to also grow or at least get enough testers to iterate on your product and get it *to* the state where someone will pay for it. IE maybe having beta testers test it, then surveying them with pricing questions (what would be accceptable amt, what would be expensive, and what woudl be exobitant sorta thing), and then once the product is in a good state, then start charging?4/ This isn't necessarily go-to-market/distribution, but I'll ask: do you have any strategies or thoughts around benefit/value messasging and the quickest way to nail that? Just for context, I'm working on a mobile app that combines mindfulness and cbt to help people stick to their diet and curb their cravings (if you want to beta test, lmk!).The way to frame this value could be in these ways: 1/ stop yoyo dieting and make a lasting change, 2/ not just a fad diet, 3/ curb your sweet tooth or cravings, 4/ we help you get on the wagon if you fall off. I usually run FB ads to test out diff value props, but I'd love to learn if there are more effective ways of nailing messaging
Great questions, let me share a more general framework for how to approach each question and provide additional context for BeeHyve specifically. Answer to Question 1: When you're in the pre-product/pre-traction phase, this is a great time to gather insights from everywhere: thought leaders in the space, other founders and a broad set of potential user segments. In this phase, I highly suggest collecting emails and start to grow your distribution list. This will help when you're ready to launch on PH: thought leaders become credible data points when you launch on PH and your early users become your super fans. When I think about readiness for launch, I typically ask "Is the current offering compelling enough for a user to come back?" In other words, Is there enough value created that they'll take a next step: open the next email that you send, invite a friend to join, etc. In the context of BeeHyve, the initial action could be creating a profile or completing a survey that's value-creation on both sides: you're learning more about your users and they're getting value from setting personal goals. This can be part of the core product or a stand-alone experience that serves as lead gen for your official launch. For example: Career Matcher by BeeHyve.
I really liked your Q4, it reminded me about a podcast I listened to today on positioning, also reminds me about value proposition which is all linked. I don't think there are any quick ways to nail it, you know the value your product can bring and what you need to do is find the best way to communicate it. It doesn't stop with ads but should be communicated through the whole sales funnel/at every touch point. Here are some amazing examples I read a while ago - I'd ask where are the current customers (online & offline)? What does the customer look like (profile)? What does the customer like (aspirations/wants/needs etc)? Who currently serves those customers and how can you tap into their database (maybe, partnerships)?I hope this helps, I really liked your questions! haha
My question is around acquiring early users and when to seek angel funding. As a pre-MVP test, I did a lot of qualitative user interviewing with our market and ran landing page waitlist/sign up ads to measure demand, which went well. We're hacking together a basic shell app to get our first beta users but need cash to acquire them and of course to ultimately build out the full version. Do you have advice around when the right timing is to bring on angels that aren't friends and family, and how to do it outside of my current network? More so than money, I'm looking for partners that can help us acquire our first users and on the product side. For context, we're building a childcare app on the blockchain.
Hi Arielle, you're already ahead of the game in terms of what's required for pre-seed/seed angels. You've done 4 things really well: 1. Identified and validated a need through qualitative interviews2. Quantified demand for the solution through waitlist sign-ups 3. Built a plan to acquire beta users4. Completed an honest assessment on where you need support (angels will love this!) Now is a great time to start engaging your broader network for introductions to angels and advisors. Every angel or advisor is different, so I would look for a mix of both industry knowledge (blockchain expertise or experience building a product for parents) + business experience that complements where you need support (product, legal, marketing, etc).
Hi Arielle, How many beta testers were you able to wrangle? I'm in the process of doing the same.
I'm an early stage founder developing a live, interactive, on-demand personal fitness App called Flight,, that delivers realtime fitness training with a live trainer or yoga instructor at anytime from your home, hotel or AirBnB. It makes exercising very easy, customized and convenient. We have elite trainers on our platform from all over the US including a 3x Olympic athlete, trainers who were ranked in the Top 25 Female Fitness Trainers in the US, fitness entrepreneurs, and trainers who are published authors and experts in the fitness industry. We're getting ready to test out our MVP w/ a small group of users, and I would love to get your thoughts on a few questions:1. I've got 150+ potential customers on our list who have signed up to use and test the product. Realistically, we don't expect that everyone will test it, but if we get 10% uptake (worst case) is that a sufficient number of people to get good data? These were sourced via primary market research, word of mouth through professional networks and via visitors to our website. We did zero social media or paid promotions. 2. I need to charge for the fitness sessions but not sure if I should charge full price b/c it's an MVP and there will likely be bugs. The price point is much higher than other fitness Apps given the nature of the service. Do you have any thoughts on this? 3. Should we be testing different market segments and exploring other use cases during our testing? Or just focus on our initial target market segment?Thanks again, for taking the time to join us and answer questions. I really enjoyed your blog post mentioned above and learning about your OODA framework.
Awesome, just checked out your site. It's great to see you have a diverse set of trainers in terms of geography, style, and experience. 1. I've got 150+ potential customers on our list who have signed up to use and test the product. Realistically, we don't expect that everyone will test it, but if we get 10% uptake (worst case) is that a sufficient number of people to get good data? These were sourced via primary market research, word of mouth through professional networks and via visitors to our website. We did zero social media or paid promotions.Answer: 150+ waitlist is a great starting point. Given that you're pre-launch, I would use this time to gather both qualitative and quantitative insights on the both supply side (trainers) and demand side (health enthusiasts). On the qualitative side, I would go through the list of 150 potential customers and start doing early user interviews to understand more about their current fitness levels, goals and other data points relevant to the app such as use cases (work travel, new mom, etc.). It's never to early to start doing customer interviews! On the quantitative side, I would figure out a list of mission critical data points that you'll feed into the product. On the sign-up page or early in the on-boarding flow, I'd love to see a survey or some questions to get to know the users so you can start to customize their experience over time. Peloton does this extremely well! Here's an interview I did with Peloton's Support team on "Turning user feedback into actionable insights." I'm happy to email you a copy of the deck too., don't be afraid to test paid! Given the category, Instagram will be a big channel for you. I have also seen really compelling fitness use cases on YouTube, Twitch and other platforms so don't be afraid to experiment. 2. I need to charge for the fitness sessions but not sure if I should charge full price b/c it's an MVP and there will likely be bugs. The price point is much higher than other fitness Apps given the nature of the service. Do you have any thoughts on this?Answer: Your pricing should make customers feels a little uncomfortable... Here's what I mean: people fluctuate between busy and lazy. When someone is busy, you're competing for time. When someone is lazy, you're competing with Netflix, Instagram, etc. etc... For lifestyle apps in particular, you need a forcing function to drive lock-in. For Peloton, that's the purchase of hardware equipment. For a stand-alone app, you'll need to experiment with willingness to pay which likely comes down to your ability to match users with the right trainer and your ability to create a sticky product. I recently read a very detailed pricing strategy doc on Peloton vs. Soul Cycle, which walks through a helpful value matrix for fitness subscriptions: Should we be testing different market segments and exploring other use cases during our testing? Or just focus on our initial target market segment?Answer: Never stop testing :) I would create a testing plan that touches pricing, content, product and user segments. Pricing and Packaging: usage based pricing, special offers, referral bonus Content: length, intensity, format: live vs. on-demand) Product: in-product features and platform integrations w/ Apple TV, Strava, etc. User segments: you'll likely want to start w/ 1-2 hero use cases, but keep experimenting by layering in new segments. I would keep in mind behaviors are hard to change, so your early users will be fitness enthusiasts and power users of another fitness program.
Thank you so much, Brianne! Your advice is incredibly helpful and very much appreciated!
My question is around ProductMarket Fit. How many innovators/ initial customers should you target for your product, before you can consider your product done? How do you know that you have achieved product market fit...what are the typical signs? Regards, Kanchan, Founder- LoanGini (, a P2P Lending Marketplace.
Piggy backing on this question! I've got 356 users and 41 people who converted to paying customers at $10/week or $30/month for my B2C parenting product. I think this shows there's clear demand (especially given that my brand is totally unknown), but not sure its fully product-market fit yet. Right now I am just targeting the DC metro area.
Hey all – we're trying an experiment in this group with a tactical AMA for founders! Brianne has kindly offered to answer your questions about fundraising, growth marketing and product development + more. Ask her questions throughout the week and she'll pop online to answer them this Thursday.This AMA like our others will be published publicly next week.Brianne – super excited to have you join us!
Thanks so much for joining us, Brianne!Thank you everyone to everyone who asked questions, too! Brianne wasn't able to get to every question, so if yours was one that wasn't answered, don't forget you can ask all of Leap in a post to the community.