Startups that want to create a new category or sell innovative products need to change the mindset from "what their customers think to how they think ?"
Spring is back for the Indian startup ecosystem. At one end we have Paytm & Flipkart not only raising multi-billion dollars but also continue to beat their global competitors. Also despite its high mortality rate startups are still the most favourable places to work as per a recent LinkedIn study. What is interesting though in this wave companies that continue to sustain & grow will not be be copying global patterns (i.e. X of India or me-too of global players) but coming up with solutions unique to the context of the current market. Companies like Rivigo, Treebo , Swiggy or Hector Beverages (makers of Paperboat) are the ones that are creating new categories. Hence the new startups have to change old habits & create new ones to sustain and grow.
However if you are a startup trying to sell something innovative you have to first change the lens through which your stakeholders see the world.To sell your novel idea to prospective customers, investors or even your employees not only will you have to change mental model of how we think?. The problem is that data, information, and value propositions are not enough to sell innovative products. While many at times we believe it when we see it for radical new ideas you have to believe it to see it. The next obvious question is how can i change the mental model? How can influence “how people think?"
The first thing is to identify your stakeholders present model of thinking. Why do they fail to see a problem that seems obvious to you? Where do you feel people “don’t get it” about your solution? Then identify then future state. Do people recognize the problem, but fail to see how your solution could solve their problem? What is the “aha” moment when someone turns from disinterested to enthusiastic?Lastly many a times clients get their current & desired states but they struggle in the transition. This is many a times the most challenging part for an innovative solution as it involves risks, ignominy of failure and most deadly inertia. In such cases you show a roadmap of progression, do small pilots, offer case studies and get endorsement from thought leaders of the industry. Many a times unrelated events (read serendipity) can also accelerate this transition. Also one has to appreciate shift in thinking doesn’t happen overnight. Like going to a swimming class for a weekend will not make you a pro at it. Think of it like learning a new instrument or building a new habit – in this case a mental habit.People need to see how the new way of thinking plays out in different contexts and situations before they put their money where their mouth is. Patience, perseverance and trying new approaches will hold you in good stead.
Infosys interestingly was the pioneer of creating category of "outsourcing" in the IT space through the onsite / off site model. They identified the cost / time arbitrage coupled with IT services for a banking or a manufacturing client. They hence not only created a new category, named it , played in it & also dominated it before the MNCs IBM & Accenture followed this strategy.
We at GreedyGame are also going through this interesting journey of creating a new category of in-game native ads.Mobile phone like other spheres of our life democratized gaming moving it from the realms of consoles & PCs to mobile giving access to much wider demography of age/gender/socio-economic class. Coupled with improving infrastructure of smartphones, data and general social acceptance towards gaming it is growing rapidly in India with we now among the top 5 countries of mobile game downloads across iOS/Android stores. Games today enjoy one of the highest 'mobile time' for a avg. Indian after messaging & mobile video consumption. However like all digital content Indians don’t want to pay for games. This leaves game developers who invests huge money to develop the game to slap their games with interruptive banner / interstitial ads. (this annoying phenomena is true for all form of digital content though). This is very bad game experience and eventually all parties i.e. advertiser, publisher & the gamer suffer.We hence are trying to make games an interesting destination of brands to engage with consumers.Like brands are subtly present today in movies to drive reach and engagement we are trying to do the same in games without being interruptive and intrusive.In order to grow we have to change the mindset to show beautiful ads within games. While all our stakeholders i.e. the brand, agency, game developer & gamer all understand the problem they are struggling in the transition. Using the above framework of “From” to “ To” state coupled with case studies, pilot campaigns, Industry reports, consumer behaviour to Pokemon Go we are facilitating this transition. While it is journey is slower than we would want at a different level it’s fun to create a new category.
Albert Einstein once said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Startups that help customers shift their thinking will be more effective at solving problems and ultimately selling products this new startup era. Wishing the best to change mindset and create categories.