The Narwhal Project

Research and Perspectives on Scaling Technology Companies

Triggers and Barriers to Innovation

If you think you have a great business or product idea your success will depend in part on how well you understand your prospective customer. In fact, If you listen closely, your customers will tell you what business you are in.

This book is all about understanding those potential customers. It’s about figuring out what triggers them to buy and what barriers get in the way of you making a sale. It’s about how to listen to customers so that you can understand their behavior and capitalize on it to make your business a resounding success.

The thing about customers is that they don’t talk very loudly. In fact, sometimes they won’t talk to you at all. They won’t tell you what they want or what you should create. They won’t tell you what triggers them to make a purchase. They also won’t tell you why they won’t buy, or what barriers get in the way of them making a purchase. They might not even know that what you have is something they need.

What you need is a framework to help you listen to customers, to understand what triggers them, what barriers stop them, and how they view your competition. That’s what I’m going to give you in this book: a framework to help you understand your prospective customers’ triggers and barriers – how they think, what they feel, and how your idea relates to their lives.

The Formula for Scaling to World Class

There is a financial formula for scaling to become a world class company and these are the rough parameters of that formula. Once they start scaling, a company must plan to grow at least 100% a year for 5 to 10 tears to become world class. In order to do that, the company will need to raise about $2.5 of capital for every $1 of revenue and allocate almost twice as much spending on marketing and sales as they do on research and development.


Target Annual Growth Rate


Capital as a % of Revenue


Losses as a % of Revenue


Marketing & Sales as a % of Revenue

Recent Research

The Path to IPO

Over the last four years, there have been substantial changes in IPOs in the software world. Firms tend to wait longer to go public, while raising larger late-stage private rounds and eventually experiencing high public market valuations. 

The Narwhal List 2019

We’ve updated the Narwhal List and released a new report for 2019. Canada’s tech community continues to make progress but we haven’t created a new Unicorn since 2015. 

The Land of Stranded Pilots

This report examines the shape of the health technology industry in Canada with a focus on three specific questions: Does Canada actually have a problem with health tech commercialization? If so, how extensive is that problem? And what is causing it?