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

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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.

Learn how to start a company, break into a new industry, write a novel, make beer & more.

Image representing Udemy as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Udemy helps students make moves. Whether you want to get promoted, break into a new industry, start a company, further a passion, or just accelerate your life, Udemy helps you learn from some of the most amazing instructors in the world, so that you can get there and get there faster.

Here are just some of the great courses they offer for aspiring entrepreneurs.

There’s more than just business topics on here too. There’s cake decorating, Beer making, how to juggle, how to write novel and even how to hit a baseball.

This site is full of great lessons for everyone.

Check it out and discover more courses here.

Lean Startup Principles are not just for startups

leanstartupI just finished listening to The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. It’s a great book that’s targeted at startup entrepreneurs but I think the information also has great appeal and value for those that work and manage in large enterprises. Intrapreneurs could gain some wonderful insight into new ways of thinking and tackling problems of change, innovation and growth by learning from the experiences in startups.

I’ve been working in large organizations for many years and the same problems persist.  Projects take too long, cost too much and don’t deliver on the original objectives. What I’ve noticed is that the same “solutions” continue to get suggested and applied with limited success.

The Lean Startup methodology is simple. Build -> Measure -> Learn.
The Lean Startup methodology is simple. Build -> Measure -> Learn.

The lean principles are a scientific approach to product development mainly borrowed from lean manufacturing made famous by Toyota.

After listening to the lean startup principles, there’s a lot that management could learn to help evolve their organizations to become more agile and innovative.

The principles aim to eliminate uncertainly, work smarter not harder, develop a minimum viable product and validated learning. The most interesting to me is the validated learning principle which is the opposite to large batch work that involves long drawn out analysis, planning and execution cycles. Here’s what Eric has to say about validated learning.

Validated Learning – Progress in manufacturing is measured by the production of high quality goods. The unit of progress for Lean Startups is validated learning-a rigorous method for demonstrating progress when one is embedded in the soil of extreme uncertainty. Once entrepreneurs embrace validated learning, the development process can shrink substantially. When you focus on figuring the right thing to build-the thing customers want and will pay for-you need not spend months waiting for a product beta launch to change the company’s direction. Instead, entrepreneurs can adapt their plans incrementally, inch by inch, minute by minute.

That last sentence is the take-away; “adapt their plans incrementally, inch by inch, minute by minute.”

In an ever changing uncertain world, you are almost certain to miss the mark if you spend months and months analyzing and planning as the world beneath your feet is constantly changing.

The Lean Startup is a great book and one I suggest any entrepreneur, manager or executive should read or listen to.