Some of the most interesting ideas for new startups come from the intersection of markets.  If I look back at some of the V1 products I have worked on I see it over and over again.

One thing to keep in mind when developing the messaging and positioning around such products is to make sure you are targeting the right buyers.  Whenever there are markets colliding there will be one side that always “wins” over the other in the gray space in the middle. You can probably still make sales to both sides but selling to the winning side will be much, much easier.

While I was working with the Nortel Incubation program, we were specifically focused on the points where the traditional Telecom space was bumping into the world of IT.  Web.alive was a great example of a product that took traditional voice and text communications technology and applied it to
creating a more immersive, interactive collaboration environment.  When we spoke to customers it was clear that when IT-based collaboration and voice
functionality collided, collaboration was the winner.  It was the IT groups that did the technical assessments of the product and the traditional telecom folks weren’t even at the table.  Trying to position this product as “telecom” and selling it to that side of the house would have been pointless.

A conversation with the CEO of a startup I had this week gave me another example of this.  His company’s product functionality falls exactly into the communications side of the house. When they took their product to market, they made sure they had messaging and positioning that made sense for a comms buyer and when they started having meetings, the buyers loved what they had to say.  As time went on however, they noticed that sales were slow to close and many didn’t close at all. When they took a closer look, it became clear that the IT buyers had a greater say in the purchase than they thought because increasingly the product was being used as infrastructure under an IT application.  The company re-positioned what they had for the IT buyers and sales took off.

Is the product you’re working on talking to different intersecting markets?  Are you sure you are selling to the winning side?

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