Start-up companies have been a part of just about every business conversation for the last 20 years since the concept became popular in the late 1990’s. By combining the reward of working for yourself and the growing statistics of people who’ve had success, the recent surge behind small business, both domestic and international, has reached unprecedented levels. Because of this, it’s worth taking a look at all the key elements that have contributed to the rise of many of the greats startups and how they can be implemented in the up and comers.
One of the first and most important strategies utilized by successful startups is creating a product where each experience feels custom-fit to the consumer. While they’re not so much a start-up anymore, Pandora has done an amazing job of turning a widely available product into a customizable, one-of-a-kind experience for each individual user. We all love Pandora because of how well it caters to each of our tastes after only a few short plays, some careful thumbs up and the occasional “Don’t ever play this again”. So well in fact that it’s spawned a number of look-alikes such as iHeartRadio, the newly formed iTunes Radio and even implementation in Spotify and Beats Radio that are all great attempts, but still fall a bit short of the original.
A lot of startup companies these days are content zeroing in on niche markets, or offering an incontestable degree of master in a very specific field. When thinking of restaurant reservations, people have slowly moved away from contacting the restaurant directly and going through the easy-to-use service provided by OpenTable. OpenTable focuses specifically on table reservations and have achieved the highest level of affirmation which is being incorporated into the day-to-day function of an entire industry irrespective of competing brands within that industry. Add to that, they’re recent acquisition of Priceline travel services which already specializes in booking hotel, car, and air accommodations and you have a shining example of one brand completion, realized by Priceline who is now able to curate an entire trip for you.
Another tool to implement in the business of startups is observing trends and meeting needs as they arise. Healthy lifestyles have evolved far beyond the Atkins and South Beach Diets of the early 2000’s, and people are really beginning to be more considerate of the things they put into their bodies. Taking note of that, wholesome snack company NatureBox, realized that even in their conscious dining, people would still be interested in satisfying a sweet tooth between meals. By offering healthy, organic snacks deliverable by mail, NatureBox is capitalizing on what’s popular right now in the healthy lifestyle category.
Sometimes, getting a win is as simple as redesigning and improving on something that’s already in play. Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, Hastings and a collection of other smaller stores had the VHS/DVD rental industry in a chokehold until a little red package came along called Netflix. Offering the same movies but at a subscription service, removing those dreaded late fees and making it easier to pick-up and return (which caused the late-fees to begin with), Netflix entered the market guns blazing and, well….that’s how the west was won. Taking it a step further, Redbox borrowed from Netflix’s design aesthetic, provided conveniently located kiosks and rentals at a much lower price-point and agreeable rental policy and created an offset lane from a path cleared by Netflix. Another important lesson here is don’t wait too long to jump on the bandwagon. Blockbuster, who originally passed on the Netflix lead, later tried to implement their own rental kiosks, and I’m banking on the fact that you’ve probably never seen one in real life.
Nothing beats a well-planned and actionable idea. Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) was innovative. And while Twitter and Instagram arguably toe the line with their overlaps, the fact still remains that the impact they’ve made on our current generation and on the way we share information is an indelible mark in history. When you have an innovative idea, nurture and invest in it because that’s the difference between successful and iconic.
It’s worth noting that while all of these successful former startups may focus on one of these pillars, you can find bits of each of them throughout all of their business models. The important thing to remember here is we no longer live in a time doing one thing is well. You specialize and master one particular area, but in order to be marketable and competitive, it’s essential that you have supporting services/products that make you stand out against your competitors. Keep that in mind and you’ll be on your way to working out of a cooperative space and arguing with investors in no time.
The post is written by Anna Gale, a regular contributor to Dazeinfo. She is a tech enthusiast, who like to profile tech companies. He is an editor at Fueled – an iPhone and Android app development company based out of Chicago.