Understand the difference between disrupting and serving


By Andrew Amann, CEO of NineTwoThree Venture Studio. He and his team have created 45 products and nine startups and were featured in the Inc 500 in 2021.

Many start-ups exist for the express purpose of disrupting the industry sector in which they operate. This is especially the case for some startups armed with a transformational or game-changing business process leveraging a technological innovation. A variety of currently successful businesses have leveraged this concept, with Airbnb, Uber, and even Amazon all providing their own unique examples.

However, other startups take a more altruistic approach in serving their targeted industry. In this scenario, entrepreneurs – in many cases with significant experience in the field – provide innovative solutions using recent technology to solve pressing problems within this industry. These startups provide a roadmap for other businesses to improve their operational efficiency while serving their customers more effectively.

Ultimately, any emerging entrepreneur must understand the differences between disrupting or serving the industry chosen for their startup. While everyone wants to become the next Amazon or Google, the focus on re-engineering outdated business processes ultimately offers a clearer path forward and a greater chance of success. Let’s take a contrasting look at the two approaches to help you make the best decision for your new business. After all, new technologies don’t need to completely change the way an industry works to have an impact.

Successfully disrupting an industry remains a rare event.

If you created a startup expressly for the purpose of disrupting an industry, your chances of success diminish accordingly. As stated earlier, trying to become a new Google and/or Amazon ultimately loses sight of the fact that these types of game-changing companies remain exceedingly rare in the modern business world. This type of startup also requires massive and continuous support from venture capitalists. Building a new business around this strategy increases a startup’s chances of failure, especially when setting goals for the new business at the highest possible level.

This entrepreneurial arrogance becomes even more exacerbated when the startup management has little experience in the chosen industry. This makes it difficult for them to understand relevant operational pain points within the corporate sector that could benefit from an injection of innovative technology. In these types of scenarios, significant domain experience becomes crucial in ensuring that a business idea offers a real opportunity for success. Any startup ultimately relies on rigorous verification of its main business idea as well as the target market.

Moreover, setting realistic goals also plays a crucial role in the subsequent success of any startup. So, instead of wanting to be the next Jeff Bezos or Larry Page, focus more on serving the chosen industry for your emerging business. Boasting a positive, selfless attitude pays dividends in the long run. Let’s take a closer look.

Serving the industrial sector of your startup offers a better chance of success.

As highlighted above, successful startups that truly revolutionize and disrupt an industry typically only happen on a generational basis. That’s why taking a more supportive strategic approach gives your business a better chance of success. Remember that optimizing various pain points in the industry by making operations more efficient through technology always provides multiple benefits to any new business.

This approach enables your startup leaders to have real impact by leveraging relevant experience in the field to solve critical operational problems through the intelligent application of technology. If your fledgling business lacks this relevant business information, quickly hire talented professionals with the right background. They play a crucial role in understanding domain-specific pain points, in addition to verifying trade ideas being developed to potentially address them.

This knowledge also helps research potential target markets for your startup’s mobile app, interactive website, or digital platform. If it becomes difficult to find talent with technical and business experience in your chosen field, consider working as a consultant in that field to gain that exposure. This initial effort ultimately pays off in the long run. Simply blind-flying and flying away rarely works as an alternative approach.

In fact, the consultancy offers a proactive approach when it comes to researching various industries as sources of intriguing market opportunities. This tactic is useful for uncovering underserved market niches where your startup has a chance to make a significant impact. It’s a strategy where having a positive attitude combined with a desire to serve the industry simply increases your startup’s chances of success.

Also consider creating a digital agency as an incubator for new start-ups while doing projects for other businesses. This client work provides exposure to a variety of industry sectors, helping your startup gain vital experience, expertise, and a professional network as a resource for new business ideas as well as talented technology and business professionals. Your organization also earns revenue to use as seed capital for new startups. Ultimately, it’s the best of both worlds for any entrepreneur.

If your goal as an entrepreneur is to start a successful business, knowing as much as possible about the industry you’re in is the first step. The best way to do this is to help other companies, solve their pain points and learn about weaknesses and opportunities.


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