In the 1989 movie Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner’s character hears a voice saying, “If you build it, he will come.” The phrase has long since been adapted as “If you build it, they will come.” But no matter how you say it, the point is the same: build something worthwhile, and you will find an audience. But what if your audience were already there, just waiting for you to start building? What if a corporate giant in the industry had already cultivated and primed your audience, and now they were left standing around waiting for a better alternative?
Let’s consider the taxi industry and their fall. Taxis had been around for decades (centuries if you want to extend the idea of a taxi to include horse and buggy carriers). But the taxi industry was rife with flaws. From expensive rides to long wait times and a rigid corporate structure, there was ample room for improvement. When Uber offered riders an app-based, low-cost alternative, customers were quick to switch. In 2016, Uber had revenue of $1.7 billion, about 40 million monthly riders, and competitor Lyft fighting hard for market share (and mostly losing). “Uber” isn’t just the name of a company; it’s become a staple for start-up elevator pitches, with entrepreneurs calling their companies the Uber of whatever.
This is what a corporate giant takeover looks like. And this is what start-up company Capsure is hoping to accomplish within the social media space. Capsure is a streamlined alternative to Facebook. I recently sat down with the founders of Capsure, Jeanne Lewis (CEO) and Mark Wayman (CPO) to discuss how they’re disrupting the market. Here are their tips for disrupting a giant corporation.
Find the flaws
Before you can hope to disrupt a corporate giant like Facebook or the taxi industry, you need to understand the internal flaws and the reasons why customers may choose to abandon ship. With any company, there is a switching cost for customers. With social media, that switching cost may include the time it takes to move all of your content or the lack of “friends” on a new platform. Your job as a start-up is to improve enough on the flaws of the incumbent business that you negate the switching costs.
Uber’s app improved upon the flaws of payment processing and long wait times within the taxi industry. Capsure hopes to improve upon flaws within the Facebook platform to attract users. Whatever your industry, the corporate giant has big and small flaws that you can capitalize on. Start there, and find ways to eliminate or minimize them in your start-up.
Know your limits
When you are trying to disrupt a corporate giant, it’s important to know your limits without getting disheartened. Uber didn’t eliminate taxis overnight, and in some big cities like New York and Paris, it’s possible the taxi industry will live on. Capsure probably won’t kill Facebook, since the platform has over 1.86 billion monthly active users and 1.15 billion daily active users.
If you’re breaking into a new market space with an existing audience, identify which chunk of the market you want to target and latch onto them. It’s certainly possible that over a long period of time, you may topple the corporate giant. But you don’t have to bring them to their knees to have successfully disrupted the market.
Millennials now represent the largest generation in the world, having overtaken the Baby Boomer generation a few years ago. If you haven’t concerned yourself with millennials or their buying habits before, it’s time to start. Millennials care deeply about family and friends (and spending quality time with them). They value authenticity. To capitalize on this, tell your brand’s personal story in your marketing.
Millennials aren’t looking for the cheapest or fastest gadgets as much as they are looking for meaningful experiences and deep personal connections. Find ways to bring this connection to your products, and you’ll like see a share of the market float your way.
Know when to reinvent the wheel
Obviously, you don’t want to start at the ground level with your audience. After all, they’re primed and ready for your product. But you do need to dig deep enough to know which aspects of the industry need to be reinvented. This is different than finding the flaws which can be improved upon. This is about the parts that are so dysfunctional that they risk collapsing the industry.
For social media, those aspects are privacy and network access. For the taxi industry, that was an archaic system of searching for a taxi company, calling for a car, and sometimes waiting 40 minutes for a ride home.
The founders of Capsure know they have a lot of work ahead of them if they want to disrupt Facebook, but they have the knowledge and experience to make it happen. If you’re hoping to disrupt a corporate giant, you need to do much more than simply launch a competing business. You need to dig into the roots of the industry, find everything you can that will make your company succeed in the space, and then fight hard for attention, market share, and loyal customers.
Follow these steps to find success in an already saturated industry.