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"A category with multiple players doesn’t exactly seem to possess the air of an uncharted wilderness that entrepreneurs so often crave for. But as above examples illustrate, sometimes it’s worth bucking conventional circuitry to realize that isn’t the case."

  • RS

    Rob Sobers

    about 4 years ago #

    I wish I could up-vote this a hundred times. I wholeheartedly subscribe to this philosphy.

    Entrepreneurs so often feel that they have to innovate to succeed. Wrong! You can short circuit the whole customer development / product-market-fit phase by picking a "solved" problem and starting a startup that can execute ten-fold on product/UX and branding (c.f. Slack).

    This is especially important to understand if you're a founder aiming for ~$10MM business. You can hit that goal post by just building software in a proven market (help desk, accounting, project management) just by being super opinionated. If you're good, you'll find a few thousand customers who prefer *your* way of tracking bugs (just ask Groove).

    If you're trying to invent a new category and become a multi-billion dollar business (a la Airbnb, Uber), this doesn't really apply, obv. But that's a lottery ticket. This approach is a coin-flip.

    • AS

      Akash Sharma

      about 4 years ago #

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Rob. "But that's a lottery ticket. This approach is a coin-flip." Those are great metaphors to sum up the dynamic. Couldn't agree more. Though, even Airbnb succeeded by executing really well in a space where Casey Fenton's Couchsurfing.com, that works with a similar model, had been around since 2004. In most markets, it's about getting to and making enough people care about how you're solving a problem, and why that matters. If one marvels at the overalls of this, it calls to mind Seth Godin's post on how tribes are never invented, "There were Harley-type renegades before there was Harley Davidson. There were digital nomads before there was Apple. There were pop music fans before there were the Beatles and Rastafarians before Marley."

      • RS

        Rob Sobers

        about 4 years ago #

        In the case of Aribnb, they weren't the first to try the idea, but they were the first to make it work. When Airbnb set off, there were still many unknowns about that market.

        I'd argue that you shouldn't even try to be *that* pioneer. Wait for someone else to actually prove that there's a real market (Microsoft Project), then do your version of it (Basecamp).

        Might not be the best approach to conquer a market, but a more reliable way to earn a sliver of it.

  • LC

    Lindsay Casale

    about 4 years ago #

    I like ‘the looking hard at the fish’ analogy! Sure, this article answers well the question whether there is anything else for wannabe entrepreneurs to do out there. Apparently, the space is never saturated.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    • AS

      Akash Sharma

      about 4 years ago #

      Thank you, Lindsay. Indeed, as Rob pointed above, it's about executing 'ten-fold' or more, and caring hard enough to solve customers' problems, no matter what the market might signal, at first.

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