Why Start-Ups Need to Find Their Sharp Edge

Posted on May 19, 2020

In this episode of the GrowthTLDR, we talk to Mike Adams, founder and CEO of Grain.

It’s no secret that collaboration through online video is exploding. You only have to look at Zoom’s growth numbers. Zoom’s growth is an opportunity for other companies to build into their platform, tapping into their giant userbase.

One such company that’s doing just that, and received a lot of press recently is Grain, Mike’s third company.

We talk to Mike about how entrepreneurs find the right markets to build a product in, is he concerned about Grain’s dependency on Zoom, and why all startups need to find their sharp edge.


Happy Growing!


Time Stamped Notes:

[2:05] – Grain is 18 months old and has a distributed team of 12. They make it easy to add notes to Zoom calls and extract the video clip associated with that note.

[3:05] – Grain has a deep integration with Zoom. When using Grain, you can pop open a notepad within Zoom, start recording the call, and take notes. Grain will add a timestamp referencing the notes so you can share relevant clips of the call. Grain is a product that is 100% for listeners.

[7:45] – At Mike’s previous startup MissionU, he saw how vital voice and video data would be to future collaboration online. After selling that company, he started Grain to build upon that insight.

[12:40] – It takes patience to find the right market and the right idea for a product. One of the reasons Mike was able to start Grain was because of the prior eight years of working in two other startups where he was the co-founder.

[18:30] – We ask Mike if he is worried about being reliant on Zoom’s platform. Mike talks through how building on a platform is an advantage. He walks us through the example of Instagram, who benefited from building on top of the iPhone AppStore.

[24:10] – Mike has had to bring forward some of Grain’s growth plans because of Zoom’s explosive growth. Mike advises early-stage companies to find their ‘sharp edge,’ focus on doing one thing well. For Grain, that thing is user interviews.

[29:30] – It took time for Mike to discover Grain’s ‘sharp edge,’ they initially thought it was a product for consultants. Mike walks us through the model they used to help find their product-market fit.

[35:15] – Mike’s is building Grain as a product-led business. He sees the benefit of offering Grain as a freemium product. He is currently experimenting with what their upgrade points might be. Mike’s core advice to other founders is you don’t know what’s the right thing to do until you put something live and start gathering feedback.


Mike on Twitter / LinkedIn
– Kieran on Twitter / LinkedIn / Medium
– Scott on Twitter / Linked / Medium