on startup ideas : finding the niche

Somehow I find lot of people interested in product ideas end up meeting me and the ideas often surprise me either with the uniqueness or lack of it. The lack of skills and the reluctance of pick it up seems to be common trait in most of the cases. But then some people understand it and try finding mentor’s and succeed. Perhaps this will be a good idea to share some of the thoughts from personal experience.

Find a niche

I think this is one of the important aspects of succeeding with a startup idea in any area. But care must be taken to make sure that the niche will grow enough to provide the return to sustain the idea (product or service whatever the idea is). The second point it should be possible to generate enough revenue to keep going.

There 2 personal experiences of finding a niche segment and then not able to scale up : though there was a rock solid team, timelines were met etc etc.

Find a niche, boot strap and run after MONEY !

In the first example, we had a photo agency where we catered to a niche – sports photography and within the segment we focused on football. This was during the time i-league was started and we even had AIFF as client.We had a super cool name :

MangoPeel

We had award winning photographers across the country, we probably managed to publish photos faster the best, we trained photographers to upload photos, process them & we paid them probably 3 times what they used get paid. All were happy. Though all were happy, we had issues with collecting payments. After an year of operations throughout which we were break even, we had to wind it up.

Why we didn’t take off ?

I think we lacked in collecting the payments. Personally, I was too shy to ask for payments. I don’t think we were ready with money! Technically, though we had found a niche and managed to bootstrap, we couldn’t generate enough revenue to keep going. Having right skills in finance is very important. This is one point often Entreprenures overlook as they get carried away by passion. For us this was the best thing, as photography was our passion

 

 

MangoPeel is started by two young photography & travel enthusiasts who came to to know about each other through their photos. They had dreams to do things differently & courage to do it. They met at a beach side restaurant to discuss their future plans and MangoPeel was born.

MangoPeel is started by two young photography & travel enthusiasts who came to to know about each other through their photos. They had dreams to do things differently & courage to do it. They met at a beach side restaurant to discuss their future plans and MangoPeel was born.

 

about-photo-2014-11-30_11-19-04

 

Find a niche, but make sure that there is enough growth in demand

This is a particularly interesting case as this was novel & the first of its kind. We launched India’s First Web TV – IndiaVibes.TV

Once again everything was uber cool, India was about to witness a massive upgradation in internet connectivity, the magical 3G was about to get launched. Our timing looked good. We had enough programs, impressions everything looked good. But one assumption failed – the high speed internet wave didn’t take off the way we expected. This was something we never expected as projections regarding internet speed & availability at low cost miserably failed to meet the expectations. Years down the down even now the 3G connectivity is poor across the country. The writing on the wall was clear. We had wind up the show in sometime.

This was unfortunate, but I think this can happen to anyone even if everything looks good. Finding a niche & then making sure that there is enough demand is very important. If there is not enough demand, we MUST pivot and move ahead.

 

Find the niche, follow the Lean startup approach & launch fast. I think this needs an elaborative post & will talk about this in another post.

 

To be washed away by Mullaperiyar.

Mullaperiyar, Kerala, Tamilnadu, Idukki

Yesterday, the Christmas day I had gone out to get few vegetables which we had missed out during the shopping. Everywhere the discussion was about Indian Prime minister meeting with the head of a province / state to discuss about a dam which is supposed to collapse any moment killing millions of people.

For the uninitiated: Mullapperiyar is masonry gravity dam which 100+ year old, built during the British rule and it helps millions of people in Tamilnadu to earn their lively hood. The farmers in around 4 – 5 districts depends on this water to grow vegetable which feeds among other people, lots of people in the 100% consumer oriented, white collar job preferring, well informed and literate masses the neighboring state Kerala. The dam under dispute is made of largely mud and is situated in a tectonically sensitive region prone to tremors. The dam may collapse in 10 – 15 years if there are no natural calamities and there is a probability of causing the biggest tragedy known to humans. In the long term it will make another set of people who is using the same water to grow agriculture products will be perished. This makes the scenario a tough one to solve. The information overload created by social media, the trend following masses of Kerala is under a mass hysteria.

The main stream media shows only what people needs and no-expert opinion or condition of other dam etc are not considered and from young to old, everyone in Kerala believes the dam will break any moment and the neighboring state and some of the forces is using the occasion to gather some attention. Its interesting to note that the Kerala side is ready to build a new dam, somehow they believe that earth quakes will not happen during the period and are open to share water with neighboring state. The other side claims that the dam made of mud will withstand more water and claims that there will not be earthquakes.

Now from a logical point of view, I have no opinions or I am not biased. As far as I am considered, all the dams should be destroyed, all the nuclear plants must be destroyed and no plastics should be used etc etc. A long term solution without impacting both the sides seems to be a solution – which is not about building a new dam or decommissioning the existing one but reducing the water level and then both the sides sitting together around a table and discussing the matters the natural way. Yes, what is happening now is manglish speaking, sorry manglish spitting VJs and radio jockies are celebrating this as a Facebook revolution and this very post has a heading to attract some organic keyword based search from search engines.

 

Now, back to the photo and Christmas New year celebrations. People tend to believe its their last time to celebrate and not leaving any opportunity to celebrate. Years back I remember it was lot more difficult to educate and bring people together to fight against causes. Now its lot more easier. The only trouble is no-one seems to be bothered about real causes. Say Aadhaar aka UID project of India which is about slaving people for their entire life time and probably even after death if their bodies are not burned. In a land of poets and generations of people who never bothered about death or pain but only about freedom and fought for it this is indeed a strange phenomenon.

We had poets who wrote, slavery is unacceptable but death is. Have we forgotten ? The irony is complete when another set of people are promoting anarchy in the name of freedom and even using the father or nation for media campaigns. Right now media teams will be getting ready for the 4th season of Lokpal and finding stories supporting and against Anna Hazzare. There are nuclear reactors being built in the neighboring regions which will again make all of us live a dangerous life, probably eating mutated fish, with bulged bellies or long ears and we may not die. We will not die in a immediate flood but suffer, we will have mutated children looking like aliens in hollywood movies. Yet we prefer to live like zombies ?

Or are we just zombies who lost the ability to use common sense and educational background to choose between right and wrong ?

Anyways, I have my post with enough keywords, I will get lot of clicks just like some main stream news papers who has landing pages filled with the proper keywords. Give me my hits, help me make money. I wish I had a FM station & a TV station or two also !!

On a different note, the Idukki dam is about to complete its 50 year life span and we have to start a facebook page and start campaigning to build a new one right away. (And thus, I got one more keyword – Idukki. Hurray!!!)

Wishing a Happy New Year and its us who paints our lives happy or miserable and no one can help you do that.