There are 2 types of start-ups:
1.) One with a well-trodden business model. e.g. a shop, a professional service, etc
2.) A disruptive business-model with no precedent
I’m going to focus on the latter.
To some degree, if you’re going to do something disruptive you’re bound to be in unfamiliar territory, but it is worth thinking about domain expertise. The most important thing is identifying a problem and creating a solution to that problem - but, to really identify a problem you need a certain degree of familiarity with it and the issues surrounding it - domain expertise is a huge advantage.
You have to question starting something if you don’t know much about the sector. Sure you might be coming at it with fresh eyes but you have to ask yourself why someone already in this sector hasn’t already done it. They have specialist knowledge and probably know the problem much better than you do. You need to be passionate about what you’re doing, so you’ve got to really know the problem and want the solution to exist for yourself. (Also be honest whether you’re doing this because you think it’ll make you stinking rich, because that can blind your judgement).
Particularly avoid doing 2 things you know nothing about - such as building websites (which is a tricky thing even to a seasoned pro) and intending to disrupt a market you have little experience of. The most powerful force is one that not only knows the problem but can also imagine and build the solution. It’s unlikely to be one person who can do all this so if you’re someone who knows the problem and the solution partner with someone who can build it - or visa versa; if you think you have identified a solution to a problem and you can build it, partner with experts in that field for an inside track. A perfect example of this is a Hailo. Read their story here, but essentially 3 business guys with a background in tech teamed up with 3 cabbies - they weren’t the first to the market but they had the right combination of knowledge and skills to pull it off. The rest is history…
Do something you’re passionate about. Try and do something you know about, and if not, at least partner with someone who knows about it!
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