33 markets ready for a disruption

In this digital age we live in today, entire industries are being disrupted by new business models & new technology more than they have since the beginning of the industrial age. To understand what I mean, look at what these companies have done in these industries.

Skype – Skype brought free global calling to the masses, cutting significantly into the long distance business of the telecom industry. Skype also made video conferencing mainstream, something  you would think would have come from one of the global telecom giants but didn’t.

Apple – The iphone and smartphones in general have disrupted many industries including land lines, watched, alarm clocks, compasses, printed mapping, dicta-phones, portable music, photography and the retail music industry just to name a few. This will continue as the invention of the App economy works to reinvent many activities.

Wikipedia – Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia has disrupted this industry so much that the former market leader Encyclopædia Britannica ended print production after 244 years in 2012.

Amazon – Amazon has disrupted the book publishing & retailing industry significantly and even the cloud services industry which isn’t that old. Amazon continues to disrupt with many of it’s new products and services.

Change is the only constant and if the past 30 years says anything, the disruption is just beginning which is exciting for those that like to disrupt the status quo.

If you’re wondering where the next big opportunities are going to be, here is a list of markets ready for significant disruption. These were submitted by people responding on Quora to “What are some $10B+ markets ripe for disruption?“& “What are the set of problems that young entrepreneurs should focus on that will yield the next $100 billion companies?” and other resoruces sited below.

33 Markets Ready for Disruption

  1. Education: There is a ton of value created by educating the masses in emerging and under-developed markets and those able to capture this value will do very well.
  2. Construction: 3D printing is on the cusp of becoming a mainstream phenomenon. And yet, contractors are still driving their big trucks over to Home Depot.
  3. Insurance: Micro and Peer insurance (everything can be insured,  and people can insure other people)
  4. Water rights and distribution: the clean water we are polluting for natural gas wells will soon be worth more than any form of gas
  5. Loans: who gives them and how people get them (micro and peer financing)
  6. Prime Time TV lineup: this will be all on demand and will change TV advertising forever
  7. The legal profession: Simple contracts could be generated and processed by machine at far, far lower cost than a lawyer’s hourly rate. Some legal documents could be modeled as graphs of conditions and outcomes, which could then be compared with tree-diff algorithms and annotated with other data.
  8. Intellectual Property: Consider the black box of patent applications, as well as the aftermarket (or lack thereof) for IP. “Patent Troll” is the latest buzz word; individuals or firms pick up bulk lots of IP on the secondary market and file suit against major companies for infringement, hoping for a big win. However, what if there were a more transparent and readily accessible market for IP?
  9. Financial Services & Wall Street: Read what Chris Dixon says about disrupting Wall Street.
  10. Data Informatics: Corporations and professional services firms can pay upwards of six-figures for limited (annual or even monthly) access to certain specialized data stores. While some data pools are proprietary, pulling information from truly unique sources that cannot be duplicated, others are currently providing nothing more than the service of aggregation and dissemination of publicly available data.
  11. Insurance: It is a black box, from the way in which “risk” is calculated by individual companies, to the way in which claims are assessed for validity and payout. Having just received new insurance, I am reminded of the obscure legalese used in even the most basic of customer facing communications – I dare you to show me an insurance company that is transparent in its communications, or even one with a customer experience better than that of an armed robber.
  12. Politics: Campaign spending alone stretches into the billions when looking at the top 2-3 levels of government. Consider aggregate spending on campaigns at all levels, in addition to significant sums spent on lobbying and other related activities. Disruption would certainly be difficult in this space, but there are examples of companies already attempting, and succeeding in some cases, to disrupt particular verticals.
  13. Real Estate: The fact that a 5% commission is extracted by the brokers for matching buyers and sellers is today’s information age is outrageous.  The buy side of the market is very opaque with little visibility into who is interested in buying what and where.  Crack that nut and you are the next Zuckerburg.
  14. Moving industry: A 16 billion/year industry formed mostly from small players. 50 companies have 45% of the market. The rest are small players, companies with under 10 employees.
  15. Packaging: In USA alone the CPG industry size is $2Trillion + [1]!  Anywhere between 10% to 40% of that money is spent for the packaging of the product.  That is the cardboard, polythene, plastic, paper etc meant for covering the actual product.
  16. Recycling: There’s still so much we can do to recycle effectively.  There’s a huge opportunity here, but I wonder if we’ll capitalize on it only after we reach a higher level of scarcity.
  17. Landfill Resource Reclamation: As we continue to come to terms with resource scarcity, we’ll dig deeper into our own trash heaps to reclaim re-usable materials.
  18. Battery Technology: If we can make tiny batteries that never have to be recharged and that don’t cause a nuclear melt down we will advance tremendously.
  19. Fast Food: The fast food industry is known to deliver more than a quick ready to go meal. Fast food also delivers some of the highest calorie foods eaten during a typical day.  fast healthly food will change this industry.
  20. Software Operating Systems: The cloud is gaining ground quickly.  OS’s that don’t require booting, installing, or updating by the user are surely preferred over those that do.
  21. Rare Earth Metals: This enormous industry, it has mostly been pushed into China were extraction labor costs are low enough to be economical. However, with >50lbs of rare earth metals under the hood of your typical Prius or EV – substitutes are needed as China cuts supply (recently announced that <50% of China-mined rare earth metals were available for export).
  22. Payments: While PayPal never quite lived up to it’s vision of displacing the major processors (Amex, Visa, MasterCard), this area is beginning to heat up again. 2%+ cost for each transaction is the reason $24T of B2B transactions are still completed using paper check.
  23. Low Cost Distributed Energy and Sanitation solutions: Developing countries have a large need for dirt cheap, compact local energy and sanitation solutions, but the same applies to many of the developed countries too. Who wouldn’t like the prospect of generating their own energy with small solar panel or other green energy solution? This is especially true when the electric grid becomes unreliable or cost of energy hikes up rapidly
  24. Diamond retailing: No major disruptions as of yet. This is a $72 billion a year market. Bluenile.com, the biggest online player, does about $350 million a year in revenues.
  25. The gambling industry: Currently unregulated in half the world (Thailand, India etc) and most bettors go through bookmakers with high fixed odds. With online betting exchanges (Betfair, Smarkets) you get the best prices because of efficient markets and high volume/liquidity.
  26. Sewing garment factories: as clothing companies get into “fast fashion”, there needs to be a better way to find, vet and analyze factory capacity and order.
  27. Medical Devices: Most big companies have commoditized existing equipment (esp.Surgical Devices). Much of the new features being added are bells and whistles to justify a price hike or reduce liability. There are a lot of opportunities in their improvement and total replacement.
  28. Healthcare: Simply put, healthcare is not working and it will get worse as the population ages. Effcientcies need to be created or this will bankrupt governments.
  29. Weddings: A 74+ Billion dollar industry that’s fragmented and highly inefficient, probably the last industry left where consumers still shop from a trade show, magazine or google search.
  30. Business productivity software: Right now, 100s of millions of people are using Microsoft Office on PCs, while their kids are using smartphones, tablets and web applications. The future belongs to collaboration and productivity apps designed for this new reality.
  31. Taxation: The tax system is another system designed for and by accountants. If the congress can get a simple(r) tax system designed and implemented, the entire accounting system as we know it today will be turned on its head. (which means they’re probably pretty safe)
  32. Automobile sales and marketing: Particularly at the dealer levels – if you’ve ever purchased a car you’ll realize this industry is completely broken. Car dealers are packed full of sales people who don’t understand the difference between sales and marketing, particularly online advertising.
  33. Mattresses: They cost too much for what they are. Someone needs to disrupt this market.

Sources

What is Product Management?

A few years ago I took Pragmatic Marketing’s Product Management course. I took this while working on the Product Development team at Central1. It was a great course that taught the The Pragmatic Marketing Framework (see image below). It provided a standard language for the entire product team and a blueprint of the key activities needed to bring profitable, problem-oriented products to market. This framework was used as a guide to build all kinds of banking, payments and insurance products to market for Credit Unions in Canada.

Each of these boxes below is an activity with objectives and tools to help you meet those objectives. You can use them all or only a few depending on your needs. The tools and templates you get on this course are worth the price alone.

prag framework

I would recommend the course to anyone interested in learning about some great tools and techniques for helping you focus, build, launch and market your products.

For a quick simple overview of what product management is, the team at Brainmates has put together a simple slide deck and i’ve embeded it below for you.

Establishing a Startup Ecosystem in Squamish

Business Startups are the economic engines that drive innovation and progress in today’s hyper-connected global economy and it’s Startup Communities that are at the center of this revolution.

Startup communities are entrepreneur ecosystems. They’re being created around the world in small and large cities like Boulder Colorado, Vancouver, Iceland and Russia to name just a few. These communities are driving innovation, creating jobs and invigorating small business energy. Simply stated; start-up communities attract and breed entrepreneurs who go on to build companies like AirBnB, Dropbox, Sendgrid and many, many more.

Squamish is a small town with big ideas currently going through a transformation. It was once a forestry town that’s now transforming into an outdoor recreation tourism destination. It’s challenged in finding ways to create local jobs and to evolve into a sustainable, self sufficient community. The population is growing quickly but the local job market is not keeping pace.

English: Squamish main street taken by Jess La...
Squamish, BC

Squamish is my community, I love this place and I want to see it succeed and prosper. It’s beautiful and has the ability to provide what I consider the best work-life balance opportunity in Canada.  That may sound biased but for me and many others, it’s the truth. There’s an abundance of great activities at our doorstep and this is what mainly brought me to Squamish in the first place. However, the challenge to completing the work-life balance equation is local jobs. Like me, there are many people that commute to Vancouver or Whistler for work and therein lies the challenge.

How do we create jobs and transform Squamish into a great place to live, work and play?

The solution to me is simple in theory. Jobs come from businesses and businesses come from entrepreneurs so it seems logical to me to find, attract, nurture and support entrepreneurs. One proven way to do this is by establishing and growing an inclusive startup ecosystem.

Startup communities are not something new. Author, entrepreneur & investor, Brad Feld is the co-founder of TechStars; a mentor-driven business accelerator in Boulder Colorado that has succeeded at building one of the most successful models for startup communities. Boulder has an incredible Startup Community. Brad’s authored several books including Startup Communities, Do More faster, and Venture Deals.  All great books I have read and that have inspired me and given me great knowledge and guidance on this subject.

“The effect on the local startup community in Boulder has been even more amazing than we anticipated. Boulder has developed a culture of sustained mentorship, where new founders place great value on seeking out mentors, and experienced entrepreneurs generously offer their time and expertise. This mindset makes the community better as a whole and it helps everyone in the community be more successful.”

To get a better understanding of exactly what I’m talking about, this great video gives a quick explanation of what a startup community is and what it needs to be successful. These lessons can be applied in Squamish or anywhere, to establish a local vibrant startup ecosystem.

The Key Points of making this a reality in any community

  • It takes long term commitment. (20 years) Creating a entrepreneurial ecosystem is a marathon not a sprint.
  • The entire entrepreneurial stack needs to be engaged.
  • Startup communities need leaders & feeders
    • Leaders must be entrepreneurs
    • Feeders are government, lawyers, accountants, angel investors, venture capitalists & educational institutions & marketers
  • Continually attracting and recruiting fresh people into the system

“In order for Techstars to be effective, there have to be the best mentors in the community who are ready and willing to participate and who understand the “give first” culture that is so important to successful startup communities. When you have a whole community behind you, rooting for you to win, and making connections for you—it’s a huge, unfair advantage.”

What’s being done for startups with Techstars in the past 7 years is fascinating and exciting in that the mentorship-driven accelerator model is and has been duplicated in over 1000 local communities around the world with great success.  Techstars has helped fund over 100 companies a year, and they have more than $70 million under management.

If Squamish wants to create a sustainable economy well into the future, it needs to look at new solutions for creating jobs and I feel that creating an active, vibrant startup community is a long term solution to our present day challenge.

19 Billionaires’ and 19 quotes

  1. Steve Jobs: Live Each Day As If It Was Your Last
  2. Bill Gates: From Those To Whom Much Is Given, Much Is Expected
  3. Oprah Winfrey: We All Need Makeovers From Time To Time
  4. Michael Dell: Never Be The Smartest Person In The Room
  5. Michael Bloomberg: Don’t Stay Down Long
  6. JK Rowling: Failure Can Be the Foundation Of Success
  7. Jeff Bezos: Gifts Are Easy, Choices Are Hard
  8. Mark Zuckerberg: It’s Easier If You Do Something You Love
  9. Steve Ballmer: Don’t Have Passion, Have Tenacity
  10. Larry Page: Tackle Big Dreams, There’s No Competition
  11. Eric Schmidt: Don’t Bother To Have A Plan
  12. Eli Broad: You Can’t Be Successful By Being Timid
  13. Pierre Omidyar: Prepare For The Unexpected
  14. Ross Perot, Sr.: Plan Your Decades
  15. Ted Turner: Work Like Hell And Advertise
  16. Reid Hoffman: Be Contrarian And Be Right
  17. Carl Icahn: Think For Yourself
  18. Steve Case: The People Around You Matter
  19. Jerry Yang: Don’t Let The News Get You Down

Which one is your favorite?

The top 10 tools I use

social-business-tools-300x300As a consultant & entrepreneur I use all kinds of tools to get stuff done in business and in life. There are literally thousands of great tools and apps out there that help you be more productive, more organized and make more money.

Here is my list of the top 10 tools I use regularly and for what. I’m always on the lookout for new tools so if you want to suggest one that you love, please leave a comment below.

  1. Google Apps – This includes Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Drive & Google Docs. I used this daily to communicate, keep appointments and reminders and store files and documents. I use Google Docs for writing project requirement docs and sharing them with team members.
  2. Evernote – I use this for all research, saving webpages for offline reading, de-cluttering paper and capturing ideas for new businesses, muses etc.
  3. WordPress – I love wordpress. This blog runs on WordPress.com, our business website, WYSIWYGVentures.com runs WordPress and many of our clients use this platform. It’s a great tool for building websites fast but it also scales from simple blogs to eCommerce websites and even company intranets. WordPress and its 1000’s of plugins and addons make this a very versatile tool.
  4. Hootsuite – I use Hootsuite for total social media engagement. Reading tweets, searching for content and trends and for scheduling posts to the many social media networks I have setup for our company and clients. This automates my social media marketing processes nicely.
  5. IFTTT – If This, Then, That helps me automate all kinds of tasks like posting to multiple social media networks with one post to Instagram. There are hundreds of automation options with this tool. Check it out.
  6. Dropbox – Like Google Drive, Dropbox is simply file storage in the cloud. I use Dropbox for business and personal files, photos and videos. I use the iphone app too and it’s great for accessing files from anywhere. I simply don’t store anything on any computer or physical hard drive anymore. It’s just too risky and life is easier when everything’s in the cloud.
  7. Elance – Elance is a marketplace for finding people with skills to accomplish all kinds of tasks for me. Logo creation, website setup, design, management and many, many other large and small tasks. There are 1000’s of great people on Elance to help you reach you goals, whatever they are.
  8. Google Analytics – I use this free tool on every website I run or manage to measure what phrases that are currently driving traffic to a website and what are the sources of traffic. You can’t learn if you don’t measure.
  9. Google Adwords Keywords Tool – This free tool is great for doing niche research by searching for keyword metrics potential the demand level for those niche words. It’s an awesome research tool.
  10. Bluehost – Bluehost is in my opinion the best hosting platform out there. It’s inexpensive and full of features that every business can use. It’s so great, I wrote a bog post on our business site called 126 reason to use Bluehost as your webhost.

So there you have it. The top 10 tools I use.

What do you use?

Important Stoic Reminders

images (2)

I recently listened Tim Ferriss’ book, the 4 Hour Workweek. It’s a very informative book on breaking free from the typical 9 to 5 work life many of us have become accustomed to. I recommend reading this book if you want to break free from the cubical and create a more fulfilling entrepreneurial lifestyle.

I stumbled across the post “Stoicism 101: A Practical Guide for Entrepreneurs” on Tim’s blog. I’ve never been exposed to Stoicism until I read this post but the principles are a practical set of rules for better results with less effort. I suggest you read the article as it’s very good and there are over 300 comments adding to the discussion.
I thought I would re-post some of the stoic reminders here as they help re-calibrate my mind and remind myself to be happy with the things that matter.

Marcus Aurelius

“So other people hurt me? That’s their problem. Their character and actions are not mine. What is done to me is ordained by nature and what I do by my own.”

“Today I escaped from anxiety. Or no, I discarded it, because it was within me, in my own perceptions—not outside.”

“When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own–not of the same blood or birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me.”

“Because your own strength is unequal to the task, do not assume that it is beyond the powers of man; but if anything is within the powers and province of man, believe that it is within your own compass also.”

Seneca

“‘What progress have I made? I am beginning to be my own friend.’ That is progress indeed. Such a people will never be alone and you may be sure he is a friend to all.”

“Show me a man who isn’t a slave; one who is a slave to sex, another to money, another to ambition; all are slaves to hope or fear. I could show you a man who has been a Consul who is a slave to his ‘little old woman’, a millionaire who is the slave of a little girl in domestic service. And there is no state of slavery more disgraceful than one which is self-imposed.”

“Count your years and you’ll be ashamed to be wanting and working for exactly the same things as you wanted when you were a boy. Of this make sure against your dying day – that your faults die before you do.”

“Nothing, to my way of thinking, is a better proof of a well ordered mind than a man’s ability to stop just where he is and pass some time in his own company.”

“Cling tooth and nail to the following rule: not to give in to adversity, never to trust prosperity and always take full note of fortune’s habit of behaving just as she pleases, treating her as if she were actually going to do everything that is in her power.”

Epictetus

“So-and-so’s son is dead
What happened?
His son is dead
Nothing else?
Not a thing.

So-and-so’s ship sank
What happened?
His ship sank.

So-and-so was carted off to prison.
What happened?
He was carted off to prison.
-But if we now add to this “He has had bad luck,” then each of us is adding this observation on his own account”

The Startup Ecosystem Report

“Countries are shifting from service-based economies to become increasingly driven by a new generation of fast-moving software and technology organisations.” 

The Startup Ecosystem Report published by Telefónica Digital was released recently ranking communities around the world that have the right ecosystem to promote tech startups as compared to the current well known Silicon Valley.

Vancouver was ranked in the top 10 which is great for BC in general and could help support a niche hub region in Squamish. The study provides tangible evidence and insight for investors, entrepreneurs and policy makers on where entrepreneurship takes hold in a community.

What is interesting to me is that this study also provides insight in to areas that a community like Squamish can focus on to attract tech startups to help build a more diverse economy.  Squamish, being a outdoor recreation mecca can provide a work life balance unlike many locations in the world which is already significant lure to entrepreneurs. We already have companies like Tiipz,  a tech company that’s developed a location based mobile marketing platform that enables brands to capture real time consumer insight. We also have hundreds of knowledge based consultants and professionals that are part of Inside Edge.

In the report, each ecosystem was ranked using the index below. It’s based on data from more than 50,000 startups around the world. It ranks them based on 8 weighted component indexes that are defined in more detail in the report.

startup index

Each ecosystem was profiled in the report and an investor, entrepreneur and policy maker perspective was described. Here are some of the highlights I found interesting and relevant for any community interested in establishing a  startup ecosystem.

Entrepreneur Perspective 

“Silicon Valley has given birth to more billion dollar companies than any other ecosystem because of its plentiful risk capital, world class talent, inclusion of the headquarters of many giant public companies, a vibrant support ecosystem, and an openminded, trust, “pay it forward”, change the world culture”

“People in Silicon Valley really believe in “pay it forward”. It’s not all transactional and tit-for-tat. Folks help each other and those not as far along as them. It’s also very accepting of failure; if you have some real catastrophes on your resume, that’s considered a badge of honor – there are not a lot of places on the planet that’s true. It’s also the easiest place in the world to start a company. Everyone is here to help you kick ass.”

“Over the past 15 years I have co-founded startups in the Bay Area, Boston and NYC, which has given me a first-hand look at their ecosystems. Boston’s key strength as an ecosystem is its diversity. There is no other place on Earth that comes close. Boston is #1 in biotech, #2 in high tech and top 3 in medical devices, energy technology, materials & environmental science, robotics, etc. This is fueled by the large number of top universities and by the diversified New England economy. Whatever your dreams may be—no matter how crazy they may seem—there are people here who can help you build a product and a business.”

“It’s all about people and their mindset. Startups need inspiring people to follow, mentors to teach, and money to support ideas. You can build an ecosystem with just a few committed people to help inspire others. A necessary requirement is an entrepreneurial mind set and there is no policy to easily foster that entrepreneurial mind set.”

Policy maker perspective 

  1. Decreased payroll tax to support high-head count low revenue tech companies(Silicon Valley)
  2. Supporting the development of new “collaborative consumption” startups, such as AirBnB, by deregulating lodging ordinances that protect hotels and bed and breakfasts, and Lyft, by deregulating traditional transportation services like taxi cabs to support ride sharing services(Silicon Valley)
  3. Policy makers can help closing the funding gap by attracting late-stage venture funds through tax breaks and incentives, and investor-friendly policies.(Toronto)
  4. Policy makers can encourage more investors set up late-stage funds with appealing tax breaks and tax incentives. (Paris)
  5. More accommodating immigration policies, tax breaks and incentives for startups and investors could help. (Australia)
  6. Policy makers are only supporters. They should not lead development. (Russia)