Kyle Tut and Matt Ober of Pinata are incredibly close to their customer segment. Pinata, an IPFS API and toolkit, targets a niche customer with high data consumption and storage needs. This intense targeting of the customer will ultimately help the team take on major competitors in the market. They’ve celebration triple-digit user growth monthly since January. They are a rare example of innovation meeting entrepreneurship.


We are often asked, “what is the best predictor of success for an entrepreneur in The Startup Collaborative?”

We hear dozens of incredible innovators monthly who scheme and dream about what they can create. Yet only a rare few take that innovative idea and turn it into a viable company.

We have identified one data point that has proven predictive of future success: the ability to identify 20 potential customers.

That single outcome in our application phase eliminates 75 percent of the innovators we meet from the process. And it’s no surprise.


According to Jim Clifton, there’s a distinction between innovation and entrepreneurship.

He says, that a big mistake that leaders and well-meaning institutions make is they think innovation is the answer to everything. When in reality, innovation has no economic value until an entrepreneur commercializes it and creates a business model around it.

Simply put, Clifton says “Innovation has no value until a customer appears.”


We couldn’t agree more.


This post is one of a three-part series on The Startup Collaborative’s strongly held first principle of closeness to customers.

Find Your Customer