Business development for startups

by | Nov 22, 2020

Business development for startups: what does it look like? Read this case study based on the brand new startup Jarable.

Business development for startups, what does it look like? As a startup founder, you are the first business developer of your company. You are responsible for pretty much everything that will make or break your company.

Someone once said, “it’s lonely at the top” and that’s especially true if you’re a first-time entrepreneur. Creating your startup from scratch can feel quite overwhelming. You want to do everything right and want to see your idea take off.

But there you are, stressing out because you are not sure of how to really build it up!

We know the feeling, we are a startup too and that’s precisely the reason why we created a business development course tailored to you!

Our goal is to make sure you have the right tools, knowledge, and skills to bring your idea to life. And of course, to give you the motivation and support you need when things get complicated.

We want to share some examples of business development for startups introducing you to some of the ambitious teams we are working with.

This week meet Jarable!

What is Jarable?

When you mix three energetic, creative, and environmentally conscious university students, you get an amazing team. A team where everyone supports each other in this crazy path of creating a company. But best of all, you get the love for what they do, which is portrayed in their product.

Lois, Nathaly, and Nicu created Jarable with the idea of bringing a sustainable, healthy, and delicious product into the market. But there’s more to it, they want to bring happiness into their customer’s lives. Saving more time enjoying a delicious breakfast while helping the planet at the same time has no price.

Jarable is a weekly healthy breakfast subscription that aims at reducing the accumulation of packaging, offer a quality product, and create a sustainable business. Their mission is to help individuals to improve their eating habits by providing an easy to make breakfast product.

The perfect solution for conscious busy people who don’t want to compromise on their health!


From top left: Silvija, The BD School; Lois, Jarable; Nicu, Jarable; Nathaly, Jarable

Business development for startups: foundations

The mission of business development is creating long term value for your organization. Many people confuse this aspect of business development because they associate the concept of value to the one generating revenue.

While the bottom line for every company is to generate revenue, this is not by itself what creating long term value means. In fact, in the very early days you probably don’t even have a product to sell.

So what type of business development activities should you focus on in a startup?

1. Focus on building solid foundations

These first stages of startups are always the most exciting. There is so much to discover and every day you gather new elements that slowly take shape into building something unique.

Jarable goal was to lay solid foundations for a company built to last. Because there simply won’t be a business in a few years if an early-stage startup cannot find traction within a few months.

Therefore the first thing the team at Jarable did was researching their ecosystem to find initial validation and feedback about their idea. Part of the research included market research, competitor analysis, and customer research. On top of reading relevant reports to their industry, they went for a more bottom-up approach and directly connected with field experts and potential customers.

Through surveys, personal interviews, and netnography they were quickly able to prove some of their original assumptions, and kill the wrong ones.  This enabled them to start working on a prototype for their breakfast jars and build the first version of their website.

There is no escape:

The way to building a successful startup goes through research, learning, and rapidly adapting your product to match your customer’s needs.

2. Start developing your product

Jarable offers a breakfast in a jar subscription. As a customer, you can order a weekly breakfast plan that you get delivered to your door on Sunday evening. So you can start the week right!

Every breakfast is made with love and high-quality ingredients in different delicious combinations. They include Açai puree, Chia pudding, Granola, Oatmeal, Nuts, Coconut flakes, Chocolate, and Almond Butter with the goal to offer more options in the near future.

The last important element of Jarable is the attention to the environment. The breakfast is served in glass jars that you return at the end of the week to help reduce our footprint.

How did they come up with this specific configuration of their product?

During the research phase, they observed a certain pattern among the people most enthusiastic about their ideas. Many of them were young professionals, with very busy schedules that wanted to have a healthy lifestyle.

After brainstorming they decided to cater to this segment to help them keep up with their health goal despite their lack of time. But of course, they won’t stop at these options. They keep involving their customers in their decision process, by constantly asking them for feedback in order to improve their product.

Business development is about understanding your customers’ needs and providing them with the right solution. It involves proactively asking for their opinion and implementing changes that will make them happy to choose your product.

Put your customers at the center of your strategy and strive to provide value at every interaction.

3. Set realistic goals

The last important aspect of business development for startups is to set realistic goals. We know it’s difficult, after all you don’t have much data to base your decisions on. Nevertheless, it’s important to set a goal for your company so you always have a clear direction and you can align your activities with it.

Jarable set an initial goal of 8 new customers per month and they opened up several channels to reach out to potential customers. They are very active on social media, they created a newsletter and will soon try more advertising channels.

That’s also the moment where they faced the first big challenge:

Engaging with their audience!

As a matter of fact, being present on these channels is no guarantee of having customers. You need to build trust and make your audience understand how your product can make their life easier. The good news is that it’s a challenge common to pretty much every startup.

The way to get past that is by trying different strategies, hustling until you find the right formula that resonates with your audience! During our mentoring sessions with Nathaly, Lois, and Nicu we do precisely that. We analyze their activities, find new angles, experiment, and repeat.

Building a business is challenging, and it’s even more difficult if don’t have anyone to share your ideas with.

Make sure you get an experienced mentor or coach that can help you think differently and uncover opportunities.

Business development for startups: organization

One thing where many startups fail is keeping things organized and under control. We share the same pain especially when we experiment with new things. Sometimes the need for speed lets you slack on organization which in the long term can cost you a lot of time.

At Jarable, all the 3 co-founders are responsible for business development, but they have ownership of different activities. One person is responsible for the website, the other one for sales and the last one for marketing. They have regular meetings where they discuss the tasks and analyze what to improve.

Besides, they use various tools to keep their work organized and speed up some of their activities. For the website, they use Wix and Canva for the content. For the newsletter, they use MailChimp and Zapier. They also use Gmail, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Part of our mentorship journey is also looking at these tools and to see which one will make the biggest impact, at the lowest cost. In these months we helped them find the right strategy for their business leading the team through the whole process.

Business development for startups: growth

The team started working on the idea in October and within less than a week, they already delighted their first 7 customers. Not bad for a brand new startup right?

These results were only possible because the team is fully dedicated to building a good product and they don’t rely on their assumptions. Instead, they ask for feedback and guidance putting in action the ideas with the biggest impact to grow Jarable.

Moreover, their speed of execution really makes a difference when it comes to adapting to change and implementing customer feedback. Which is exactly what they will focus on in the coming weeks. Improve their product and include more breakfast options to make sure they help more people keep a healthy lifestyle.

Take the first step

Creating a startup is very exciting, you see your ideas come to life and you can feel proud of making a difference in the world. However, it can also be challenging and overwhelming with the risk of never putting your ideas in practice or fail after a few attempts.

The good news is that you don’t have to go through the process on your own. Instead, surround yourself with the right mentors, invest in developing your skills and don’t let what you don’t know stop you.

Are you ready to take the first step to build your successful startup?

Continue reading: Student Stories: Meet Apsicologica

the business development school - content marketer silvija


Silvija Kozlek

Content marketer at The BD School

We are The BD School, the first educational platform for business development. Check our course to learn in a structured way and get results!


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