Want to Really Win Big? Blow Up a Market

People ask me often what kind of business to start. Usually I say something like “look in the mirror,” continuing with how the best business for you has to reflect who you are and how you’re different. But here’s a new thought for you: choose the market you’re going to disrupt.

This isn’t for the sandwich shop, graphic arts business, dry cleaner, or new restaurant. It’s for the rarified air of the big bang startup. What market doesn’t work? What market can you radically change?

If your new business blows up an old market, then you really matter. Think of Netflix, amazon.com, Google, Hulu.com, and other big winners. ZipCar. Expedia. Twitter. Facebook.

In every one of those cases, somebody applied a new way of thinking to an annoying old way of doing something.

I heard it yesterday from one of the smartest and most successful people I know, my son Paul, CTO of Huffington Media Group:

“I’ve seen the way smart investors work. If it’s a team they believe in, and they focus on a market to disrupt, it’s going to work. They’re going to get going, change it often, and make it work.”

Want to really win big? Blow up a market.


  • Robbie Vitrano says:

    Highly recommend hacking into an existing, tired and/or irresponsible model. Like the $40 billion carryout/delivery pizza model with the question “what if pizza was good for you?” In a country where 50% of all people are expected to be diabetic or pre-diabetic at an annual cost of $500Billion by 2020, with per capita health care spending expected to hit $15,000 over the next 5 years,and with 90% of obesity and 80% of cardiovascular and type-2 diabetes preventable, it’s no longer acceptable for the fast food industry, the National Restaurant and Grocer Association, etc. to shrug their shoulders at the problem. America has moved on. Smart, conscious entrepreneurs are paying attention.
    Robbie Vitrano, co-founder Naked Pizza

  • Gary Williams says:

    Hi Tim,
    Thanks for your article encouraging entrepreneurs to “Blow up a market”. I’m an engineer by trade and have been an employee my whole career. Recently I’ve invented, refined and defined a new product, for which I don’t clearly know the market.
    I know the problem(s) it solves, as I suffer myself, but as a product I’m unsure what market it currently fits into. It sounds so basic, but how can I find the right market?

    The product is designed to help people who sleep on their stomach’s to get a better nights rest, while keeping their neck and spine aligned.

    The product looks like a piece of furniture, but competes with products, such as specialist pillow which are less effective, but generally cheaper. It also has the potential to alleviate chronic snoring, plus various other medical and personal entertainment applications.

    My Ocean is potentially so blue, I’m suffering from lack of vision of which direction to swim in. Coupled with this I’
    m fnding it tough to make my (first) business plan, particularly regarding sales projections.

    [By the way is there a resource you can recommend which provides access to market sales (by product type/market), to make accurate predictions of market share based on reasonable market penetration?]

    Anyway, if you “blow up a market” what happens if the market then becomes fragmented?


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