Hey, it’s Richard Awoyemi and welcome to The Startup!
I’m an Actuary, tech entrepreneur, self-taught engineer and angel investor. I muse about entrepreneurship, personal development and lifestyle design.
Warning: you may notice some stylistic changes, let me know your thoughts!
Today’s Thought: Niches
What got me thinking: Hatching Twitter 📚
I started reading Hatching Twitter two days back. It covers the story behind Twitter. Fun fact: MSN Messenger’s status updates inspired Twitter’s creation.
I’ve written on focusing your efforts elsewhere (click here) - but one way this plays out is niches. Twitter turned an overlooked feature into a company worth over $35 billion.
Another Case Study
Burbn also famously pivoted. They started as a confusing app with check-ins, posting plans and photo sharing. The app was cluttered, but users loved sharing photos. So they removed everything else, renamed themselves “Instagram”, and relaunched. They became the top photo app on the apple store within hours.
Narrowing the focus creates numerous benefits at every stage of building a company.
Consider Twitter’s story:
Jack was a junior employee when he built the first version of Twitter in 2 weeks. It was fast, cheap and relatively simple to make because the scope was minimal.
They prevented Yahoo from building a competing product because they could iterate quicker since their app was smaller.
Twitter struggled to handle their growth rate. But, it would have been impossible if they were managing a more complex application.
They struggled to articulate what Twitter was for a long time. But it only gets harder if there’s more functionality to explain.
Ultimately, narrow scopes let you cater to the problem you’re solving faster, cheaper and better.
My first startup attempt was “ambitious”. We tried building a product that attempted to accommodate everyone. With limited energy and time, that was a mistake. Everything took too long and was complicated. Hindsight is 20/20.
It’s easy to wonder: “Is the market large enough for this?”
But in an increasingly digital age, there probably is if you’re solving a real problem.
The Unbundling Of Udemy by Greg Isenberg | Checkout how Greg unbundles Udemy. He shows that narrow verticals can disrupt CourseTech.
Do you see what I see? 🗞👀
Twitter “Spaces” will be like Twitter for audio. Great idea, but Clubhouse got there first - and is snowballing. I’m convinced, having been on it loads this week. It’s exceptional for authentic community discussion and discovery. Chalk and others are also worth watching in this space. Most people naturally support these underdogs over the tech giants, but who knows what will happen. I’ve noticed two critical characteristics of this growing space:
Audio makes social networks more personal in a digital world; and
Engaging in these rooms is time-consuming.
In recent years, people have been increasingly sceptical about SF’s status as the Tech Hub of the world. Since COVID-19, the scepticism has increased drastically. Regardless of whether other capitals around the world are producing more unicorns, this puts SF back up there.
Some amazing black founders from the UK, pitching and doing some Q&As - I’m lucky to know many of them! There will also be talks by exited founders Shola Akinlade (Paystack - exited to Stripe in 2020) and Novo Abakare (Syft - exited to Indeed in 2019). Finally, a deep dive into The Black Report with the authors Anika Henry and Andy Davis.
Founder Steve Lamar wrote a funny thread about going from 143 followers to 150 in 6 months. It got him over 17,000 more followers in 24 hours.