Thursday, October 25, 2012

6 Startup Strategies For Building A Niche Community

Targeted products appeal to niche audience.

And unfortunately, not all tech companies can have the reach that Facebook and Google enjoy. Software companies that solve problems for smaller groups of users, then, must work diligently to reach these smaller pools of individuals. Easier said than done, though, right?

I spoke with entrepreneurs from a number of startups working within niche communities to understand some of the secrets behind their outreach strategies. A number of ideas arose from these conversations, but six of the most cited strategies are described below.

Is your startup focused on a niche community? If so, let us know how you’re reaching and engaging with your target audience in the comments below!

1. Be Embedded Within Your Community

Lauren Katzberg, Chicago Booth MBA student and co-founder of early-stage startup TheStylisted, says that she and co-founder Julia Carmona have found their ties to the beauty industry to be immeasurably helpful in getting their fledgling venture off the ground. Their startup aims to connect professional stylists with clients through an online booking interface.

Meeting with stylists, the duo found that citing their current business school endeavors wasn’t making a favorable impression on potential users. So, they shifted the messaging to focus on their backgrounds in beauty. Carmona had previously worked in public relations at NARS Cosmetics, a respected makeup company, and Katzberg had previously consulted for two years with one of the top five cosmetics company in the world. Katzberg explained that while she has never been a stylist and didn’t work directly with stylists during her consulting project, just having that professional connection enabled her to relate to stylists and gain credibility in the meantime.

Likewise, having been embedded in the styling community prior to starting work on TheStylisted, the duo was able to recruit top stylists from NARS through Carmona’s connections to use the platform, style early adopter clients, and recruit their other stylist friends to use the service.

Entrepreneur Anthony Goldbloom has also taken a community-focused approach in founding Kaggle, a predictive modeling competition platform for solving large data problems presented by companies, governments, and researchers.