Sep 19 · 7 minutes read
At Wolfpack Digital we’ve had the chance to work with over 25 startups in the past 4 years. We pride ourselves with our amazing clients and partners, who may have achieved the scale-up status and are now established brands. If we are to listen to them, this is also a result of the engaging product strategy sessions we’ve had together.
So we thought we’d share a bit about one of the ingredients that make the chances of a digital product succeeding on the market greater: the central idea of the product and, more specifically, its target audience.
Is a Broad Idea, meaning a general idea and/or a large audience, better than a Niche Idea, meaning a more specific idea and/or a restricted audience?
Many startups begin, few resist and thrive. What makes the difference?
Many believe what makes the difference is the idea. We, and many others who have been in close contact with start-ups for a long time, are here to say that even though the idea is important, it is the implementation that actually is essential and makes the entire difference: from correct feature selection for MVP development to the technical quality of the development team’s work, and further to the way you bring your product to the market, to how to monetize your product, and to how you learn to adapt to your audience. It’s about understanding the ecosystem where your product operates really well. Every element in the mechanism must work smoothly together with the others for the product to succeed. Including the idea.
In short, implementation is essential. Have a look at apps such as Tinder, who have been nothing new on the market when they appeared, yet they are dominating the dating apps scene as we speak. Being first to the market is many times a big plus, however, it is rarely enough. Especially when we deal with B2C digital products.
However today we are here to speak about ideas worthwhile. Ideas that can beat the need for an epic implementation. Ideas where being first means a huge head start and significantly greater chances for achievement, and where to look for them.
We think that many of them can be found by looking at the details, rather than at the big picture describing an industry, like small rubies.
The Problem with Broad Ideas
When choosing a broad subject for your app — and B2C digital products are more prone to approaching such ideas — the problem is that many times it’s all been done before in many ways by many others. Yes, a greater audience potentially means greater revenue.
Many have thought of it because many have felt the pain of the majority of the population you are thinking of targeting and, as they have been exposed to the same cultural background, they came up with the same idea or solution.
Researching the market well to see what your unique advantages are when deciding whether to pursue an idea is essential, even more, when choosing to develop a product such as an event app, a clubbing app, etc. This is not to say that such an idea cannot turn into a million dollar product, but it needs to come with a twist. The truth is, in 2018, many of the great ideas addressing large audiences or general issues we all wish we had thought about earlier (and most of the times we did) are already “taken”. We are now generating new ideas for large audiences mostly focusing on innovations that have shaped our daily existence more recently. Take IoT, for example.
So then is there an area, or several areas, where we can look for ideas that actually work for the market without us needing to be outrageously lucky or business masterminds from the very beginning? Ideas that are so powerful that they weigh more sometimes than even the implementation in the grand scheme of things? The answer, in our opinion, is yes.
Niche Ideas or Ideas for Niche Audiences
There is still great potential for innovation in the area of digitalizing certain offline sectors: medical, charities, insurance, etc. Most opportunities can be found in the B2B field, and luckily this is also where the gold is in terms of revenue and monetization. You may have fewer users, but they are ready to pay more as you truly bring value to their business through your app. It’s a win-win situation all the way.
However, many others again have proposed solutions that try to solve general issues for offline sectors, or solutions that aim to overall digitalize everything for these businesses in one product: take beauty salons, for example — there are many options on the market for beauty businesses to explore. Not to say that revolutionizing a sector by proposing a product for digitizing it start-to-end cannot be done, just that it would be more challenging.
So what should we look for then?
You need to find something small that makes a big impact, in a dedicated business sector. This is your Niche. These are the low-hanging fruits of start-up ideas, in our opinion. This is an issue or an area of improvement most probably others may have noticed, but no one (or few) have thought of using technology to solve it.
The key to identifying the right idea is finding the “hidden” pain point of the business, which most of the times means you need to have direct experience with the niche you would be innovating so that you can observe all the processes and see where technology can help improve things.
If you are to innovate in the medical field, for example, it’s far easier to find the right niche if you or someone you know are part of the daily life in a health clinic and you observe a specific issue where an app could help. Maybe some annoying spreadsheets with some rather complicated calculations which could turn into a beautiful web or mobile app and make the experience of filling them actually enjoyable? Which would then translate into higher productivity, scalability, less stress and more on-time deliveries of medical data?
Focus on something small and find a grand solution for it that will make your users stick. You can then walk your app through a growth process where you add more functionalities needed on a day to day basis that can also be found in other apps. Functionalities that solve more general problems.
Some of the great niche start-ups we have worked with are:
Amplicare — this is an app for pharmacies. Amplicare started out by cutting the best patient care plan computation times 3 times through the power of technology, following an observation that the time could be shortened. By solving this specific problem, pharmacies in the US became subscribed to their product because of the time they were saving, which meant more patients served. Also, patients were served better which meant more business.
Now Amplicare has added many new features and they have received many awards for their product (please see case study for the exact description of what they received/Google it).
GoodBox — this is a GovTech start-up from the UK, offering contactless fundraising for charities.
The founders of GoodBox observed rapidly that people are carrying less cash and it’s time to adapt to using contactless credit/debit cards to replace/complement cash donations in public spaces while keeping the offline feeling of having a ‘donation box’. They are now backed by Downing Street and Andy Murray.
Makerist — this is a highly successful German marketplace web application particularly focused on tutorials for handmade projects, bringing designers together with hobbyists.
The audience is large, however, the idea itself is specific.
Autoproff — this is a Danish company offering a tool for car dealerships bidding for cars. The idea came again from actually working in the car dealing industry and observing a need for automatizing and pipelining all steps involved in bidding for cars or exchanging cars between car dealers, to make sure all documents are sent for each car (for example). This is just a thin slice of the operations involved in running a car dealership business in general.
Can you think of a specific idea in a specialized field to build a product around it? Identify it and research existing solutions and whether other stakeholders would be interested in innovating around it. Good news is a niche idea usually also means a small, MVP-like product, that is fast to build and validate on the market.
It also means spending time with friends outside of your profession is the best thing you can do, not just for relaxation and broadening your horizon, but also for exploring ideas for start-ups.
We'll leave you with one interesting idea we took from this year's Techsylvania event. It's what Jeremy Fisher, former CEO and Co-Founder of Wander (acquired by Yahoo) and currently CEO of River was saying in his talk, How to slay a dragon (not one from Game of Thrones, but a technical one in the field of business growing).
For a user to make the switch from an existent product to another one, he/she should perceive the last one as 9 times better than the first. This is why it is very hard to compete with existing products and it’s sometimes better to simply find your niche! 🧐
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