Niche to win, Baby

Today I am posting a blog from a well respected tech investor in Silicon Valley – Dave McClure.

“Actually, this is quite far from the truth – in fact, you can be incredibly mediocre and still be quite successful. (sounds inspirational, i know, but stick with me for a minute.)

The secret is to find your Niche – that is, the initial customer segmentation / product differentiation combo that enables you to beat your more established, mature competition with a much crappier product.

This strategy is called “Niche to Win”.

Most VCs (especially those with limited operational marketing experience, or in a few cases, those with too much good fortune with big wins) have no understanding of this. They commonly and foolishly advise founders: a) “You’re thinking way too small”, or b) “Your market isn’t big enough for us”, or (sorry Vinod i know you mean well but i don’t agree) c) “We only fund Ambitious Entrepreneurs who want to Change The World”.

While this perspective isn’t completely irrational coming from large-fund VCs (>$250M+) who need big exits & returns to satisfy their LP investors, it’s incredibly unhelpful in the short-term for entrepreneurs just getting started, who may be a year or three from understanding their mature market opportunity.

In fact it’s a bit counter-intuitive, but the crappier you are and can still find minimum viable success, the quicker and better you’ll be at identifying initial customer-problem framework opportunities that will create possibility for your still tiny little startup to grow up and succeed.

Let me give you an example:

Suppose you’re a tiny, new startup working on products for women, and you’re competing against Proctor & Gamble, or Johnson & Johnson, or BabyCenter, or ShoeDazzle, or something huge & profitable & successful.

You feel like you can’t win right?

Like it’s impossible to beat those big incumbents.

But now consider: those companies focus broadly on the huge and largely undifferentiated market for women, perhaps with the only focus being that they are between the ages of 18 and 65.

Now, consider if you NICHE TO WIN, you can focus on products for: … women ages 25-40 … who have 2 or more kids age 3-7 … who live in urban areas … who make $50K-125K US GDP or equivalent … who work for a living … who feel like they don’t have enough time in the day.

Now, it’s actually quite easy to focus on a much more narrow demographic, research & discover their common problems, and build products & solutions that focus more specifically on these customers, rather than the broad market segment of all english-speaking women in north america.

Now, you can compete with a much less mature product but much more focused customers, more specific problems, more targeted marketing (that probably costs less to acquire customers ready to purchase), and thus a more differentiated offering. In fact, your product could be far inferior, far more expensive, and far more profitable than a big competitor’s product that was designed for a much bigger, undifferentiated audience, but with crappy untargeted marketing. Also likely, because they’re a big company, they’ll move and innovate much slower than you, so you’ll always be ahead of them and they’ll never ever catch you.

Ultimately, if you do want to become a bigger company, you will have to grow your market, change product offerings, and compete in multiple customer demographics against those big incumbents – but in the first few months of existence, your job is simply to establish a foothold, to get an initial MVP out the door, and SURVIVE.

If that’s your goal, then focusing on a big, world-changing vision is EXACTLY the wrong thing to do. You need to narrow your field, find a very targeted customer, and work on a simple, crappy, focused solution for your customer.

so just Niche to Win, baby.”

The real article can be found here: http://500hats.com/niche-to-win

Ways to Utilize Your Cowork Space

So we have had some requests on articles and blog write ups, and we want to respond in a fulfilling manner. We hope this helps people in the Naples area, as well as all over the nation.

1) Keep an open mind. When working in a cowork space, such as Venture X, remember to keep an open mind and collaborate. Cowork spaces are built so local businesses and startups can utilize everything within them. Most spaces are built on an open floor plan and allow their members to sit wherever they like. Take advantage of that! Sit in a new seat every day, or heck, move around throughout the day and meet people. They’re built for collaboration and community…so collaborate! 

2) Balance work and play. Cowork spaces are all about having a good time, but there is a time and place for it. Venture X in particular is built to help the local startups and businesses succeed. Our main focus is to build the community stronger so that companies can begin to grow along side the other members in our space. When working in a cowork space, remember to utilize it as an office space and remember other people are there to work as well. Now before you say, “but, but, but I thought that…” hear us out. Cowork spaces DO promote collaboration and networking. We encourage our members to mingle throughout the day with other members. We believe through collaboration…innovation occurs. What we are stating is you must balance the work and play. Every cowork spaces environment is very organic and is controlled by the members. Here comes the “play” aspect. Venture X, along with a few other places stay open 24/7. We personally will be hosting events after hours for our members to attend along with the occasional events for the public. These are events that you will want to be apart of. The best way to grow your business is by networking, getting feedback and hear about what other people are doing. 

3) Be open minded. Entrepreneurs by nature are optimistic. Now when you put 20…40…100 entrepreneurs all in one area, the feeling of inspiration grows tremendously. When entrepreneurs see others succeed, it pushes them forward and makes them more motivated. When working in the cowork space, be open minded and hear what advice people give you. You WILL be around startups who may have more experience and some who need your advice. So make sure your head isn’t constantly buried in the laptop and mingle.

This Working Alone Thing Sucks!

We’ve all been there. Those days at the office where we are isolated in our offices or cubicles, with no one to talk to or get advice from. It sucks! Lets face the facts. Everyone wants that feeling of being needed, and enjoys being helped. Its human nature to be social and to have the urge to talk to people. Well guess what?! This no longer is an issue once VentureX launches in Naples.

VentureX is preparing to bring a whole new vibe to Naples and all of SWFL. VentureX encourages collaboration so that no one ever has to work alone again. Coworking allows people to get involved with other entrepreneurs and work side by side with like-minded individuals.

You want privacy? Thats fine as well, we all have those times where we need to get in the zone and work in privacy. At VentureX we have private offices, conference rooms, a lounge area, phone booths and many more ways that you can zone out, put on the headphones and work away.

We want the Entrepreneurs, Freelancers, and all Independents of Naples and SWFL to be successful at whatever they do, and this is why we are creating VentureX.

Venture X wants to make the tech scene go BOOM!

As many of you know, the tech scene in Naples and all of SWFL just isn’t visible. There are many talented developers and designers here, but no one notices them. 

Why is that?

We will tell you why. Because there hasn’t been a place for these techies and entrepreneurs to call home. Every city, whether it was Palo Alto or New York City, needed a leader and a space to make the tech scene explode. 

This is what we want Venture X to do. We have a team of strong entrepreneurs, who have invested in tech startups who were acquired by big names such as Google. At Venture X, we are ready to get this tech scene rumbling in Naples and all of SWFL. We will be hosting hack-a-thons, demo days, and possibly larger events that are known world-wide.

It is going to take some time, but the team at Venture X is excited and ready to get the technology enthusiasts collaborating, innovating, and building Naples to be the tech hot-spot in all of SWFL.

So get excited folks! It’s finally happening!

(Venture X is an entrepreneurship office space that is available to any industry, not solely tech)

Cowork Offices in Naples

Naples is home to some great entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small companies, many of which work from a home office, executive or out of a Starbucks. Coworking is a new concept for Naples, that the founders of VentureX stand behind and believe will help shape the entrepreneur atmosphere in Naples, Florida. The days of overpaying for an executive office and bringing your clients to Starbucks are over.

Coworking is a concept that began less than a decade ago with technology startups in San Francisco. Businesses soon realized that people dont like being alone and feeling isolated while they are working. The future of how people work is changing and companies are beginning to tear down the walls and encourage collaboration.

At VentureX, collaboration between members is key and it is what causes the innovation and excitement of entrepreneurship. Lets be honest, what person would not want to be working at a desk one minute, then sitting in a new york cafe chatting with fellow entrepreneurs the next. This is all possible, at VentureX.