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Identify new market needs

Emergent use cases and new customer types lead to new ideal atomic concepts. These new workflows and different customers have different priorities than existing customers. How they think about their problems and weight possible solutions is different, even if often the end output has similarities. Of course, astute readers will pick up that causality is reversed here. New types of customers are a good proxy for where to pay attention. But it is actually the changed atomic concepts that are what make startups a compelling contender against incumbents in the space.

Customers don’t care about your technical architecture or internal org structure. When these no longer align with the job they are trying to do, then all the sprawl of the company becomes harmful, not helpful. These are the core bedrock that are much more difficult for a company to change mid-flight. Everything that makes an established company strong is built on top of this foundation and will fight back against changing them. Take Blockbuster and its reliance on physical stores and late fees. People often fall into the easy narrative that incumbents are asleep at the wheel. That they are too stupid to see the coming threat. This can be true but it isn’t the most common reason. Contrary to popular belief, many execs at Blockbuster not only saw the threat Netflix posed, but also the opportunity for Blockbuster to have claimed the mantle Netflix now holds. They even spun up a team to take Netflix head on. But what made retail stores and late fees so powerful and profitable for Blockbuster is also what made them so hard to displace. Every move to prepare Blockbuster’s core for a digital future was resisted by execs who generated more revenue, store operators who were livid at being cut out, and Wall Street investors uncomfortable with turning a consistent business into a high risk venture.


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Changing customer needs

Market entropy is good for new entrants.

It’s not impossible to break into a market by brute force, but it’s hard. Very hard. Most successful companies, especially startups, have found tailwinds to harness that help pull them forward.

Changing customer needs are the largest source of ...


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How Adobe lost users to new startups

The internet drove entirely new design use cases. Photoshop was built for editing photos and images. It’s a powerful tool that operates at the pixel level. However, many of these new uses weren’t about image manipulation. Images were a component—not the essence—of the job users were trying to acc...


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Changes which come with changing market scale

Other times the scale or dynamics of a market shift enough to make a product no longer work despite having been a great fit. Companies are often caught flat-footed by these situations because what they have done successfully for years suddenly starts to falter—and they aren’t sure why. Ebay is a ...


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Tapping into the right level of abstraction

The best products map to how customers think about their workflow. They match the abstraction level of their customers: not too high that it’s unusable, but not too low that it’s hard to use easily or extend in more complex ways.

They choose the right atomic concepts.

These are the co...


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Approach the problem using different concepts

How should we understand these market transitions and why these young companies are able to thrive, even against a strong incumbent like Adobe?

These companies have distinct atomic concepts from Adobe. The primitives that their products are built around are fundamentally different from thos...


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Identify your target market

Identify your target market

Working out who your target customers are will help you to identify the stores which are most likely to want to stock or sell your product, as well as being able to tailor promotional materials and marketing approaches for that demographic group. 

Retailers will also prefer it if th...

The flexibility keeps you in the game

If your company remains stubborn and won't try to keep up with trends, in the end, it will fail.

Very good example: BlockBusters who refused to evolve and take as example the new created firm, Netflix, to start selling subscriptions and not just renting). 30% of their profit came from the l...

Learning Is Not Only For The Young

Many adults make a mistake of letting their kids learn new things but not patronizing the learning mentality among themselves. They subtly give out a negative message to the kids: Learning is only for young people.

Adult Beginners, the people who are not young but are try...

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