It usually all starts with an idea. As it is commonly said, the idea is king or the idea is the king and other clichés.
Then it comes to the technology (Step 1): how one gives flesh and bones to an idea, how easy or trivial this is (not), how demanding in resources, know-how and capital. And also: how much time this will take once the technology is already there.
Then comes the time of business (Step 2): one has to define a business or build a business out of the technology. This can be an App (nowadays everything needs to be an App…), or a product, or a service, or something in between. Most people thing that this is it! We are done! No – unfortunately there is still one step to go: it is the market, stupid…: A business is good to have – but without a market (Step 3) it has no chances to survive. It is like a human with no oxygen (or water, or food…).
Some typical mistakes that take place at this stage:
Mistake number 1: You build the technology and then you think everything will operate on its own or things will take their way…
Mistake number 2: You build the technology and the business, and then you again think things will find their way on their own…
Few people stop at step 1 (technology). This is not as bad: they feel they did what they knew best (build the technology) and leave the rest (‘all money-making activities’) to someone else
Most people stop at step 2 (business). This is very bad: they don’t see the need for the next step 3 (market).
Here are some thoughts – I don’t expect them to get a prize in business modelling discipline, but they may be useful for all our future discussions regarding the business potential of the CS-AWARE project:
- To build a technology is neither trivial nor easy or straightforward
- To build a business seems easier than it actually is but still gives people the pleasure of doing something value adding and highly creative
- To build a market seems like the most terrifying thing to all – and rightly as it is neither trivial, nor easy or straightforward. It is the best thing one can imagine – and it is the worst thing that one can imagine.
By ignoring step 3 you don’t improve your position… You actually worsen it… or make it unsalvageable. So, what should you do? Let’s take a bird’s perspective to the whole thing – or, as they say, see things like the fly on the wall. Some iconoclastic questions follow below.
Can one build a market without having the technology or the business?
Yes! An example for this is the market for mobile phones that was there before they were invented! We only needed the technology (analogue or GSM) and the business (service providers, telephone equipment, other hardware and software, …).
Can one build a technology AND the business without having the market?
And to make it even dramatic: while the market in existence and good shape? i.e. stable or growing in certain parts of the planet? The answer is again: Yes! An example to this are the diabetic devices. For all blood glucose meter devices that appeared in the market and may now be classified under a different technology ‘wave’, the market was obviously existing and real before these ‘entered’ the market, constituting a textbook example of what latent demand is.
In the context of CS-AWARE, and for the different types of exploitation paths that are open to us, it is important to distinguish all three of the abovementioned steps:
The offering of the CS-AWARE technology in a unique way, that may help us build a sustainable business which will be capable to address existing needs of a real market.
University of Passau