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From helping startups since 2013 and analyzing tech IPOs from the past two years, I’ve reached this surprising conclusion: You don’t need a new category. In fact, the vast majority of startups succeed in an existing category. As did, it turns out, Steve Jobs, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and Marc Benioff. And if you do try it, category creation is much harder and costlier than it seems. This article summarizes my perspective on the matter, based on extensive research and actual go-to-market experiences — some of which are included here as anecdotal stories — and makes the case that startups are more likely to succeed by competing in an existing category than by trying to create a new one.
Purchasing a new digital tool is always going to be a big decision and a lot of thought goes into choosing the right one. However it’s not just what software you buy, but also how you deploy it that decides whether the outcome will be as successful as you want it to be. It’s certainly not as fun as choosing a physical tool (who doesn’t love a new hammer?), but a detailed deployment plan can make or break the success of your software implementation phase.
For so many startups and even larger tech incumbents, the point at which they hit the shoulder in the S-curve is a mystery, and the author suspects the failure to see it occurs much earlier. The good thing is that identifying the enemy sooner allows you to address it. We focus so much on product-market fit, but once companies have achieved some semblance of it, most should spend much more time on the problem of product-market unfit. In strategic planning, the question in building a forecast is to flush out what the author calls the invisible asymptote: a ceiling that our growth curve would bump its head against if we continued down our current path. It's an important concept to understand for many people in a company, whether a CEO, a product person, or a planner in finance.
Doing things that don't scale is a critical part of early growth for any company. These are the best articles on the tactics startups and new businesses can use to gain early traction in a market and acquire their first customers. Startup marketers can learn how to get their first customers for any type of business.