The make-or-break for an entrepreneur is the actual product/service offering. Here again, the package of offerings and the sequence has to be just right. One way to think about products and services is the disruption they can cause. If there is one word which should define what you do, it is Innovation. A good source for thinking about disruptive technologies is Clayton Christensen’s “The Innovator’s Dilemma”.
Christensen discusses disruptive technologies and their impact on markets and companies. Disruptive technologies are “innovations that result in worse product performance, at least in the near-term, and bring to the market a very different value proposition than had been available previously.” He goes on:
First, disruptive technologies are simpler and cheaper; they generally promise lower margins, not greater profits. Second, disruptive technologies typically are first commercialized in emerging or insignificant markets. And third, leading firms’ most profitable customers generally don’t want, and indeed initially, can’t use, products based on disruptive technologies. By and large, a disruptive technology is initially embraced by the least profitable customers in a market.
Innovation and Disruptive technology are what you as an entrepreneur must be thinking of. How can you be innovative in what you are doing: how can you 10-10-10 the market: 10x cheaper, 10x faster and 10x more reliable that whatever exists today.
How can you also work on the fringe markets initially so that you can build a credible customer base to allow you to attack the mass-market? To do so, there has to be something disruptive about your technology; incremental enhancements are what the existing players will be doing anyways so you do not stand a chance against them.
Another important point when thinking abourt products and services is to think of, in the words of Geoffrey Moore, is the “Whole Product.” Early adopters may go with part solutions because they want the latest and newest gizmo, but the mass market wants to improve productivity, it wants a complete solution. The whole product is defined as “the minimum set of products and services necessary to ensure that the target customer will achieve his or her compelling reason to buy.” This also means that the product must satisfy all the requirements of at least one niche market segment, rather than have everything for nobody.
Going back to our IndiaWorld example, when we launched Khel.com as a cricket site in 1997, we made sure it had everything that a cricket fan(atic) would ever want: daily news, live coverage of matches, statistics, scorecards of all Tests and one-day matches, records, interactive queries, and a plethora of cross-links. It ensured that the site was a complete package, a “whole product” – enough to ensure that the visitor would came back for more!