The Niche Pitch

Some markets are obviously very big. Curing cancer? Health Insurance? Food delivery? Very big.

But many markets seem niche. This is true of both consumer and business facing companies. When most startups are created, they seem to be going after niche markets. Sometimes, these companies do go on to be huge huge businesses. Maybe what seemed like a niche actually was a gateway to something much more mainstream. Maybe the niche created a new market altogether or expanded the pie. My colleague Tim discussed some of this in his prior post.

When a founder is confronted with the inevitable feedback from investors or other folks that their focus seems narrow or that the market they are going after doesn’t seem “big enough”, the natural response is to talk about how the market could be bigger.  The founder may feel the pull to say things like:

“This is actually just our first market, but we will quickly go into these other markets that are very big”

“We are already getting pull from big company X and Y to work with them”

“Actually, our audience is much broader than you think, this is something that anyone of [insert broad demographic here] will love”

Ironically, I think the best way to combat the questions of being niche is to be do the opposite.  Become even more focused, more obsessed with the one thing that will make your product really really great, and the specific types of people who will absolutely love you for it.  You need to go back to your north star and march ahead.

Maybe ultimately, what you are doing is a niche.  But you have the best chance of finding out by going after that niche and doing it great.  Then, your customers or those that know them will tell you if what you are doing is actually much bigger than anyone thought.

Remember, some of the best companies in the world were built for a niche of one.  A person creates a service out of necessity (AirBnB).  A team builds a tool for their own people (Slack).  Don’t try to satisfy everyone too soon.  Do your thing, do it well, and find true believers.


Rob Go

Thanks for reading! Here’s a quick background on who I am: 1. My name is Rob, I live in Lexington, MA 2. I’m married and have two young daughters. My wife and I met in college at Duke University - Go Blue Devils! 3. We really love our church in Arlington, MA. It’s called Highrock and it’s a wonderful and vibrant community.  Email me if you want to visit! 4. I grew up in the Philippines (ages 0-9) and Hong Kong (ages 9-17). 5. I am a cofounder of NextView Ventures, a seed stage investment firm focused on internet enabled innovation. I try to spend as much time as possible working with entrepreneurs and investing in businesses that are trying to solve important problems for everyday people.   6. The best way to reach me is by email: rob at nextviewventures dot com