Startup Ideas: Opportunity Spotting Tricks From Steve Jobs

December 28, 2012 10:49 am

In many ways, PG’s startup ideas post was a way to convert what is widely perceived as an art, into science. We realized that the top minds in technology occasionally spray some of these ideas out in the open.

We spotted a couple of such ideas from Steve Jobs, from an interview at the D8 conference with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. Obviously, coming from Steve Jobs, these are heuristics that would result in frighteningly ambitious ideas.

1. Look for industries where there is a lack of clarity on who the real customer is. It is an intermediary opportunity waiting to be grabbed. Steve Jobs uses the music labels as an example –

“When we went to the music companies, we said “who is your customer?” And they said, “Best Buy, Tower”…their distribution partners. But that wasn’t their customer. They needed to recognize who their true customer was….So what changed in the music business was not the back end, but the front end. The way that you market to the consumer….The film industry needs to embrace that. ” (Source)

We could not come up with examples readily on this one – can you think of any?

2. Look for industries with big issues around go-to market strategies. The argument here being, these issues would be so huge, the mere thought of solving those would have turned away quite a few potential competitors.

“The TV is going to lose until there’s a viable go-to-market strategy. That’s the fundamental problem with the industry. It’s not a problem with the technology, it’s a problem with the go-to-market strategy….I’m sure smarter people than us will figure this out, but that’s why we say Apple TV is a hobby.” (Source)

Examples here include TV, energy/utilities, and basically all places where the distribution folks closest to the customer have a short-term unbreakable lock-in (mobile networks, but that one Apple seems to have solved in a smart way)

3. Steve Jobs says, in the interview, that they have seen the data, and that customers are NOT searching on their mobile phones. We don’t know how much of a pointer that is, or how much value there is in that particular revelation, but we thought we will add it here, along with the other two.

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1 Comment for “Startup Ideas: Opportunity Spotting Tricks From Steve Jobs”

  1. Anthony S

    Re. Number 1- Identifying the customer. I think the best example of a market that’s confused here is wealth management. If you asked financial services providers, particularly in wealth management who their client was they would say financial advisers/dealer groups/brokers.

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