Friday, March 11, 2016

Being niche is not the same as being innovative

I have met a fair number of start-up organizations over the last year with an aim to associate as a consultant. While start-up seems to be the way every person believes is the path to achieve their dreams, most people find that the most obvious ideas are usually taken. But dreams are difficult to give up on; and the urge to not let go drives people into a corner which makes them believe there is still a space they can build up on. 
Food and Travel seem to be what most people are looking to focus on. Yes, while both are most definitely booming areas, Start-up enthusiasts build an entire idea based on what they want to do rather than what the market needs. The minds are more focused on realizing the dream than building a successful business model. Most often, ideas begin with statements like, "I want to the Uber of this space..." and that is the point where I lose interest. On most occasions, that is where the idea has died and loose talk has started. Not uncommon that that was the last you ever heard of the project and it just never took off in reality. 
"I have an innovative idea; pure vegetarian hot food service with a homely taste delivered to your desk, if you book by 7 pm the day prior" - apart from people who occasionally like to order, this one statement has narrowed your universe leaving every person who occasionally likes to have meat, a bit more spice than home and isn't really sure how long he might be in office tomorrow out of the equation. In most offices have a microwave to re-heat food, so you lost on the other USP. There are services which can deliver home cooked food on demand; you lost out again. "But I want to do this and I want to have an app made for this with e-wallets and card payment facilities".   
Sadly, technology is a facilitator, unless technology is your business. Having a web-based travel website exclusively for high-end international Honeymoon couples needs an enormously strong digital marketing team to create the pull. Yes, weddings are a big market, but are honeymoons the space people like to spend the most on? How many of them go abroad and spend on a 5 Star? And if they do exist; how many choose an option off the internet to spend upwards of INR 3 lacs? 
A niche is like a happy place to separate out from the crowd, but a corner is always lonely for people to notice you. Yes, David can  be brought down by Goliath, but it will call for an agile idea which David cannot replicate with the same speed or effectiveness.  More so, ideas have to be functional as a business model and implementable within a short span of time before the others in the market can react. 
I am reminded of a case shared by Jack Welch upon his need for a business to be among the top 3 in its category or be eliminated when he undertook the consolidation of all GE businesses. While people created filters based on colour, capacity etc to prove their worth, the bigger picture is what matters.
Yes, believe in the ideas and work hard to turn dreams to realities; but also evaluate the business worthiness and the market before you take the lunge. The approach needed is to understand that success is how many people you can build into your idea rather than how many you choose to ignore to make it seem an attractive prospect.  

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