By Avery Faller
Speaker: Sean Glass
Company: Novak Biddle Venture Partners
Occasionally when you are building your product, you will begin to question who exactly your market is. Maybe the consumer base that you believed was your target doesn’t find your product that useful, or maybe there are two market segments equally interested in your product.
Earlier this week, Sean Glass, a founder of Higher One and Employ Insight, came to speak to the YEI summer fellows. Sean explained that in cases like this, when you have an idea that you know is good but you don’t know who it is best for, it is better to iterate through markets to find the most applicable customer base than to change your product or give up your idea entirely.
Sean used Employ Insight as a case study in this process. Employ Insight helps companies hire candidates who will find satisfaction in the work they do. Sean explained that currently three very different types of companies were interested in trying out Employ Insight: Fortune 500 companies, because they hire so many people; professional services firms, because they have very extensive interview processes; and small companies, because every person they hire will have a significant impact on their work environment.
Often when you are starting a company your instinct is to offer the service or product to every interested party and expand your business as quickly as possible. Unfortunately this is often not feasible with limited staff, and with every market segment asking for small changes to be made so that your product is more specialized for their particular company. Therefore, the best solution is to find the best market segment so that you can grow sustainably until you are ready to scale to other market areas.
The best way to do this, Sean says, is to sit down with various companies and talk with them about what they want to use your product for (or if you are lucky, what they are already using your product for). Sometimes you will find that you have created a product to solve one problem, and you will learn from your customers that it also solves another problem quite well. Once you have talked to your potential customers, deciding on which market you want to enter won’t necessarily be an easy decision. You must weigh each market’s size, competitive landscape and barriers to entry. But once you have decided, stick with your decision and conquer that market in order to prove your product; you can grow from there.
When building a product, don’t be afraid to learn from your customers. They know what they need better than you do unless you’ve worked in that industry before. If multiple types of consumers are interested in your product, spend time to find the consumer that will be best for you and who will make the best use of your product. That way you and your consumer both benefit. If no one is interested in using your product, don’t despair; just think outside of the box to help you widen your search for potential customers.Read More