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Launch in multiple markets vs single market?

At beginning phase of your startup, the typical notion is to start and focus on a single niche market (city) then expand one market at a time from there... What are your thoughts on launching in a multiple focused market, say different cities, then refine your product market-focus from there? Striving on a notion that launching in different markets would better inform where your products fits best

16 Replies

Eric Levenson
4
0
Eric Levenson Entrepreneur
CEO and Founder at First Call
Honestly, launching in multiple markets (unless each market is super tiny) is a terrible idea. It spreads your resources way to thin when you are trying to figure out product market fit. How can you handle multiple places when you dont event know if the idea is gonna work at all (from sales to marketing to customer service to pretty much everything). If it doesnt work in the one market you are going after then it most likely wont work anywhere otherwise what made you think that was the right market to target first to begin with. Figure out a playbook and then replicate it but make sure the playbook works all the way through not just with user growth. Especially if its a business thats not just built on eyeballs but on selling something. In other words figure out how to make your one market P&L look good before going to other markets (you can exclude shared services from that P&L as that cost will be spread amongst all your markets).
Darren Naylor
2
0
Darren Naylor Entrepreneur
Business Development at Luxie, Inc
I've got back and forth with the same thought process myself,but I've learned figuring out where the best market is and starting there is the way to go.

I tried expanding too early on before I even knew enough about my business and it ended up causing me to pull back into the city I started in. You need to allow time to learn about the business and customers in one area, get things running smoothly, and then figure out the next best location(s) to move into.

I personally believe that once you've figured out one location that you can start doing multiples afterwards with the knowledge gained. But that would still be up to how well things are going for you.

Just my two cents.
Fabrice Lorenceau
4
0
Fabrice Lorenceau Entrepreneur
Co-Founder at LiveLike (Techstars'15)
I recommand reading "Crossing the Chasm" which explains pretty well why you should start with a niche market (including geographically). Like Eric Levenson said, this allow you to focus your effort and validate the value proposition.

Start 'small' even if this means you expand after just a couple of months and you get proper validation on your initial target.
I am sure there might be exceptions but overall I think it is a good rule.
John McArthur
3
0
John McArthur Advisor
President of Walden Technology Partners, Inc.
I always recommend launching in a single market first. If you have done good customer research before developing and launching the product, then you already know you've got a wanted/needed product and you can focus on perfecting your marketing, sales and support processes, which lead to high customer satisfaction. Word-of-mouth marketing from happy customers will then become one of your greatest assets enabling you to expand to other markets.
Casey W. Xiao-Morris
2
0
Casey W. Xiao-Morris Entrepreneur
China Business Consultant I Seasoned China B2B and B2C Expert
I will assume that it is a product-based start-up. If it is a online business, my answer may be different. Launching in a single market makes sense until you are in the process of testing a proof of concept. Multiple markets will provide you with enough market data, that guide you the next steps. As an international business consultant, I rarely recommend that a start-up expand to overseas markets, especially a complex market like China. Stepping outside of the market you are familiar with will cost you extra resources and time. There is learning curve. If you believe launching in a single market provides high risks, The next question for you is how many markets should you launch into without using extra resources. Best luck.
Giles Crouch
2
0
Giles Crouch Entrepreneur
Digital Behavioural Economist | Speaker | Writer | Technology Strategist | on Twitter @Webconomist
Unless you have a very big launch budget and even then not a good idea. I agree with the others, start with a niche market. Learn. Before you decide which market to start in, determine via research the optimal market. Have Market A and Market B so you have a plan B if the initial launch isn't working.
Katie Curtin-Mestre
1
0
Katie Curtin-Mestre Entrepreneur
B2B Tech Marketing Executive
Many of the products I've been involved with in the B2B tech space are horizontal plays since they work across a variety of customer segments and verticals. However, starting out with a focus on a particular market, whether that is a location, customer segment, vertical, or even use case, typically is the way to go. This creates tremendous benefits on the go-to-market side since once you've secured a few wins, you have a formula you can replicate until it your are ready to tackle your next market.
Ema Chuku
0
0
Ema Chuku Entrepreneur
Designer. Product Developer. Founder @ NuPad
Thanks all for the valuable inputs. A bit further access on this, given the product is an online based business (not a physical product), and was originally beta-tested in one market (home market), and a small marketing-analysis on an outside focused-market. But given the rising interests from the outside markets overshadowing the home market, would your decision or thought still be affected?
Eric Sullivan
2
0
Eric Sullivan Entrepreneur
CEO at FoundationLab
I would think that it comes down to your ability to execute in multiple markets at the time of launch. Typically a start up has limited resources and money. So with both being limited can you properly execute to get enough traction to learn what you need to know? Also remember first impressions can make or break you so its better sometimes to launch to a smaller group and learn any big initial pitfalls and fix those then expand further. If you go too big you may ruin the reputation if the product did not hit the mark and deliver enough value to its end users.
Doug Parsons
0
0
Doug Parsons Entrepreneur • Advisor
Principal at Parsons Etc
A quote attributed to many is:
The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.
A shot-gun start you have no main thing to keep the main thing.

Second, your product is almost incidental, sales and service are your sink-holes of time. Without sales, you never get your product out -- that takes a lot of time and focused energy. Without service, you never get to keep your product in.

IBM didn't begin with the best main frame, they had a good product, but won through sales and service. What became Sperry-Rand was first to market and always had the superior product, but was unfocused and put its energy where it got no return, and eventually IBM passed them on the product -- and the rest, is history.

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