Key to be a Successful Startup, “Don’t follow the winner!”

Heaptalk Team, economy . 07 Sep 2020
Key to be a Successful Startup, “Don’t follow the winner!” - Business Profesional Portal, Jakarta – It’s woeful seeing as many startup initiators are still fixated on a narrow space, tend to be cliché, and lack of breakthroughs. What they are targeting is just getting investment, then expanding the market, then as a founder or co-founder, they get exposure as an inspiring figure, without ever thinking about any new impacts that can be delivered on the related industry like shaping it’s new landscape or initiate new potent, at least at the regional level. They, if I asked, tend to take the path that the unicorns have already walked in.

“The motivation why I chose this business model because this business model has been tested by the startup Unicorn A. We’ll also see that the market is ready”. At least sentences like this that I hear a lot when I mentored in several startup incubation programs.

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They tend to keep on going without ever knowing that if they follow something that has been done by previous startups and then it is successful, it becomes a danger. There are about 9 out of 10 startups that I met with ideas like this, and I am not surprised if only 10% of startups can survive long-term since their incubation period.

Giving some example, remember when the beginning of the online motorcycle taxi (ojek online) business model appeared? Eventually, many similar business models emerged. We don’t need to mention the name, but what is certain is the business model survival age with the same idea of the incumbent will not last long.

The ojek online, also encouraging the emergence of the idea of ​​a startup to digitize all aspects of transportation modes in Indonesia, from public transportation, bus ticket aggregators, to boat and yacht tickets. Finally, we can see at this moment? None startup has appeared to the surface yet. Even some of them who has initiated the idea, today they announce close their operations.

The other example is in the tour and travel eCommerce industry. Just because the eCommerce industry is booming in Indonesia, and is triggered by the rampant startups’ incubations that focus on the tour and travel industry, young Indonesians are competing to create tourism startups. And 90% of them were on the same idea, and the vision is to be the only leading eCommerce travel and tourism in Indonesia. Moreover, amplified with the statement of the Minister of Tourism Arief Yahya that the technology-based creative economy sector will be the top 5 largest foreign exchange-earners for Indonesia, it makes competing on this industry is very challenging.

Finally, we can see that the good ideas that have emerged from the incubator-level startup can now be carried out almost without a hitch by the unicorn, Traveloka. Besides, the cool names of travel startups that had graced this industry are slowly fading away. In fact, in 2017, startup analysts noted that the industry in the field of eCommerce tour and travel has become a red ocean. This means that it is not attractive and must be avoided by investors.

Try to pay attention to this phenomenon. Perhaps it is not just one or two fields that met the same path. And perhaps other fields too. Then the question is, “Is it wrong for us to take the path that was once done by unicorns, at least even there are minor similarities in the industry?”

Why not? But if possible, we have at least four aspects, such as; genuine unique value prepositions, strong branding identity, something that others can’t follow, and strong on the low-level business.

In the first two aspects, if you have strengthened this, then the emergence of a product or service from your startup has the potential to disrupt the existing market and be able to stand out as an option for existing services or products and then carry out user acquisition. But still have weaknesses that sometimes your competitor can offer a much better experience and cost offering, you will be wiped out. Moreover, if you are not strong enough in any aspect, means that you are not different from just offering products or services that are outdated.

And for the next two aspects not only makes a difference for your startup but also as a positioning amplifier. For example, on the ‘other people can’t follow aspect’, you can determine what aspect that you can assign as the untouchable. For example, you can choose the programming language that is quite rare, and the technological environment that requires specific skills to follow. Or you have strong enough basis data so that your investor thinks that you can potential enough to do social engineering, and so on.

While, the least important factor, which is ‘strong on the low-level business’ means that we should go deeper into the business core that typically startup solutions today only focus on the high-level aspects, which is the application. This may consist of the user interface, user experience, product pricing, product journey. How about the low level? Such us the product infrastructure, virtualization model, middleware, and the dockerization. It is still not found that there is a startup that brings fresh ideas to reach into this level.

Imagine, most of them tend to choose the ‘ready-to-use’ technological ecosystem such as the hosting, which tend to choose virtual private server and virtual machine cloud hosting that if we see deeper, it comes as outside technology. 90 percent more of Indonesian hosting providers are using outside virtualization technology from VM Ware, Alibaba, Amazon, and Microsoft Azure. This is the actual chance that if you put the local provider, you will get the differentiation. And of course, we can say that our technology is pure by Indonesian.

Still on the deep side, if we move to go upper, there is a middleware layer that we are wishing someone can present with bright ideas that come to this part. For example, that can provide solutions that typically correspondence both for the application layer or the hardware layer, or we can say it can be driven into IoT (internet of things), machine learning, big data, and Artificial Intelligence. If any, this idea may be the purest, since in Indonesia we are lacking the potential to overcome the potential demands on this side.