SETsquared Blog


"Your focus needs more focus".
These words of wisdom uttered by Mr. Han in the new Karate Kid are as relevant to Jaden Smith's character as they are to a startup, or any business for that matter. 

Focus in Startups
Mr. Han went on to create a successful karate instruction website 

My co-founder and I are now learning to constantly focus our initial vision of what our product was capable of, into a tight, concise and valuable offering to the end user. In other words, make something that people will buy. We did not start this way. Our initial vision was grand in scale and ambition. The first product we were going to build was going to do just about everything we knew was technologically possible and it was going to solve a myriad of problems for a vast range of types of customer. If we were Apple, this strategy might work. They have a community of hundreds of thousands of app developers, who are chomping at the bit to try some new kit. But, we are not Apple. 

The old adage “Think big but start small” holds true for most startups. There are a plethora of examples from the Dot Com boom of companies that thought big and started big (see Almost all ended in disaster. Often the problem was that they built a product that the customer did not want, was not ready for or the available technology was not sufficient.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, most startups don’t have $135m worth of funding to blow, let alone 1/1000th of that amount. 

How do you start small, think big, then become big? Well, history has shown that all big companies make money (obviously ). So a startup needs to sell something to make money, whether it be a product or a service. If you’re selling a service, as a startup it’s just not physically possible to be everywhere at once. So you must necessarily start small. Who to sell to first? There’s no magic answer. Perhaps try some low hanging fruit, who you know are able to pay (even better if they’ll be the type to sing your praises to other folks like them). How do we become ‘big’? Again, there isn’t one correct strategy. Software and web-based businesses scale more easily because the marginal cost of selling your product or service (SaaS) is close to zero. As detailed in the book, The Lean Startup, web companies must also not assume they can just start big. They too must find their niche. Yelp started with coffee and food lovers in San Francisco. The first deal that Groupon offered was a half-price offer for pizzas for the restaurant on the first floor of its building in Chicago. These companies started by developing customers’ loyalty in a specific area or demographic. When they had stumbled over their first hurdles and worked out what their customers truly wanted from an experience (an understanding not derived through surveys but through user activity), they began rolling out their products to other regions or types of customer. 

At InMotion, we have product features that we would like to add at some point. Our product development timeline puts those right towards the right hand side. We started by wanting to ‘target everyone’ with our product, and then we wanted to initially appeal to anyone who has ever held a golf club in their hands. So what are we building now? It’s a product that will be of invaluable use to a certain type of golfer, needing to learn about a certain number of aspects about their overall game. 

InMotion Golf

Our initial focus certainly needed more focus, but this process has not ended yet and it never will. there’s just time to go wax the car.

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