CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - CEO Advisory - Disrupting an Industry: Lessons Every Entrepreneur Should Know (and Heed) When Launching a New Startup

CEO Advisory

Disrupting an Industry: Lessons Every Entrepreneur Should Know (and Heed) When Launching a New Startup

Starting your own company is no doubt a difficult undertaking and having an idea that can change the industry and revolutionize the lives of every individual is a challenge that not everyone can rise to. Even with that million-dollar idea, how can you make your dream into a reality? 

A disruptive startup is an endeavor that has the ability to revolutionize the way a society lives, thinks, and works. This kind of innovation should be able to break the norms and customs of life to replace the current conventional methods. Whether the industry being disrupted is on a global scale or within a local community, low costs and high accessibility are attributes that can make any startup successful. 

Very well-known companies such as Zoom, Netflix, and DoorDash all found gaps in their respective industries and pioneered technology to revolutionize the way we communicate, consume media, and eat out. By identifying these gaps in your industry of interest, you too can spearhead a startup that will transform the way we live our lives.

Look for incumbent companies who are overlooking the less profitable segments of the industry

As the current dominators of your industry of interest work to grow and provide a higher quality of products and services, they may make the mistake of overlooking the needs of the low-end and mainstream consumers of the market. This will leave a dangerous opening for competitors (such as yourself) to gain a foothold in these less profitable segments of the market that the current incumbents are neglecting. 

In order to make your company disruptive, it is crucial that you use this opportunity to move up the market and deliver a more suitable functionality and performance that the incumbent’s customers require. When these mainstream customers begin to prefer the offerings of your company over the dominating business, you have officially disrupted the industry! Congratulations! 

Seize events, changes when they arise

A recent industry disrupter that you may have used before is Zocdoc. In response to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Zocdoc realized that it has a unique way to transform the accessibility to healthcare as people were advised to stay home as hospitals became overwhelmed. Although in-person healthcare visits were not going to become obsolete, the need for telemedicine and access to doctors from home was higher than ever before.

By understanding that the current telemedicine capacity was not enough to absorb the volume that usually goes through in-patient, Zocdoc was able to leverage the decision by the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) to relax the requirements for privacy in telehealth situations. Within weeks, the company launched a feature that allowed patients to schedule video visits with their doctors, which the doctors would then carry out on platforms such as Skype and Zoom. With a clear demand and opening in the market, Zocdoc was able to disrupt the industry and become a success in telehealth. 

Disruption takes time

Rather than entering an industry with your primary intention being to disrupt, evolve your business to fit the aforementioned recommendations and focus on getting the business model right rather than just the products or services. Because of this, disruptors are easily overlooked and can gain footholds in unexpected ways. Be patient, and you too can end up like Netflix… you never know how technology will change. 

Entering a market that is already dominated by a massive company like Blockbuster, Netflix’s prospects for success were grim. In contrast to the instant gratification of going into a store and purchasing the DVD of a newly released film, Netflix entered the market with an online platform to purchase DVDs that would be delivered through USPS (which would take several days to arrive).  

As the world changed and technology transformed the way media could be distributed and consumed, Netflix had the platform and technology to pioneer internet streaming services which eventually took down Blockbuster in 2010 when they declared bankruptcy. 

Try and think about how the world has transformed since the pandemic began in 2020. Are there any industries you can identify that desperately need to be revitalized? How can you use your current skills and knowledge of the industry to find these footholds and make change from the ground up?  Then just go for it!

Written by Cosmin Panait.
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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - CEO Advisory - Disrupting an Industry: Lessons Every Entrepreneur Should Know (and Heed) When Launching a New Startup
Cosmin Panait
Cosmin Panait is an investment fund manager in New York who has funded a number of private and public companies. His portofolio runs the gamut across a variety of industries, including tech, biotechnology, and consumer packaged goods.

Cosmin Panait is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Connect with him through LinkedIn.