Is it possible to start a company an industry that you have no experience in, and are there any successful examples of that happening?
Go to Market Strategy, Starting Up Oct 14, 2018
Yeah, it’s definitely possible. In fact, if you start a company in an industry that you don’t have any experience, you may actually be at an advantage because you don’t have any of the baggage that comes with having worked in that industry before.
Two good examples would probably be Uber and Airbnb. The founders of those companies had no experience in their vertical. Travis at Uber had no prior experience in the taxi industry, and Brian and other other founders of Airbnb had no experience in the hospitality industry.
So I would turn the question around in really focus on the problem that you’re trying to solve and what your solution can provide as a set of benefits and value to fix that problem, rather than worrying too much about having experience in your particular industry. Just get good about educating yourself around who is in your industry, what it your competitive landscape looks like, what are they doing successfully, what have they failed at. But don’t obsess over them because you’re going to be doing something new, and a lot of founders fall in the trap of obsessing over competitors. If you’re in a space that has a ton of competition, you may want to actually spend a little bit of time in the field and learn more about that industry because it’s going to be a lot more difficult to stand out.
If you’re in a space where there isn’t as much competition or it’s a newer field or emerging market (or a new technology or a new set of ideas) then you probably won’t need to do that. But it’s going to really all be about getting out the door talking to customers, understanding their wants and needs, and understanding what problems you’re solving for. And just learning as you go to some degree.
It’s very common for people to become CEO’s of startups from other industries than what they have knowledge of, and there’s definitely a lot of success stories around that model, so you definitely don’t need experience in in the industry that you’re going to dive into.