Grace Lanni, Managing Director, RSE Consulting //My client has a brilliant idea, has about $10k between idea and first product iteration and a major magazine just published a great article about her market. It doesn’t say ‘look, go build my client’s application’ and any entrepreneur with an affinity to that market will be sniffing around asking, “Hmm, growing market, what are they missing?” Her launch timing is just prior to optimum market launch – giving her first mover, and fast iteration capability.
I’m not a fan of bullying my clients to buy or build anything. Frankly, if it’s not their idea (or think it is) and are not motivated to see it through, unless I’m the CEO of their company, I am powerless to make it successful.
This is the challenge and the beauty of being a consultant. I get to feed ideas to my clients – they iterate and get excited – and I’m able to live the new product / idea excitement without the drama. There is major fun in this.
Innovation timing can be too early, on the mark, or too late – as the ‘J’ curve teaches us. A perfect example is my first software company. The first asset management solution delivered as a SaaS model to the early collocation market. $MM funding from a tier 1 Venture Firm, and no experience – pure enthusiasm on my and my team’s part – and we had many successes. If I were to sum up the failure: early product into an early market. When our major client failed, we did not have enough momentum with other clients to see us through.
Second early experience was with one of the very first tablet manufacturers. This company pulled off a brilliant launch, positioning, and adjustment to include solutions and not much clarity around the necessity to ride the innovation bump through to the Apple tablet hill. We spent every waking moment teaching people what a tablet was and how to use it in their business. Now, the tablet market is headed toward its FIRST crest. Preparing for successive crests is, in my opinion, the art of design-innovation and maintaining first position in a particular market.
An example of appearing late in a market is a custom desktop PC vendor. How much longer do you think PCs will be around? 5 years ago, this was a 50%+ margin business and extremely lucrative. Would you invest in this business now? ME? Not without a plan to reinvent their offering to their wonderfully loyal customer market.
Here’s hoping the client that inspired this article finds the courage to jump in. I so enjoy launching a company at the perfect time.