Links Between Entrepreneurship and Market Orientation?
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Back in 2010, when my partner Anup Agarwal and I came up with the idea of opening our company as a simple blackboard where in transporters, brokers and fleet owners could interact and do business with each other, we faced a lot of flak from the industry players.
We met a bunch of transport agents, fleet owners and transport company owners and everyone believed that something like this would never work. We were saddened, dejected as why isn’t the market responding well to an idea, which could save a lot of un-necessary man-hours and bring transparency, which was much needed. Was it a bad product back then? Or was the “market not ready” for the product?
Here is an analogy that explains the co-relation between the product and market-
If the product is good but the market is bad the market wins. If the product is bad but the market is good the product wins. Whereas if both the product and the market are good something magical happens.
Let us delve deeper to comprehend the co-relation better-
When Product Looses
A classic example of this scenario would be the launch e-commerce sites in India, trying to sell apparels online in 2001. At that time the internet penetration in India was very poor, as people who had access to the internet were urban based and to add to the woes, the connectivity infrastructure was very poor as mostly people were using dial-up connections. It was a great idea, however, the market was not ready for it and hence the product could not be successful. E-commerce was introduced in India by sites like Rediff, Indiatimes, Fabmall in the late 90’s and early 2000, however none of them were able to convince the country to shop online.
When Market Embraces
In the 90’s, cable TV made its way in India and revolutionized TV viewing and got us hooked to shows like X-files, Small Wonders etc. and at the same time we could watch a live cricket match with a better picture quality. There was a clear un-met need in the market; however, the product was not so great, as many times we would have to call the cable operator that the signal is not available or the picture quality is not great. We used to run to the cable operator’s house and beg him to improve the signal quality so that we could watch a live cricket match.
In the e-commerce segment in India, the introduction of IRCTC was a huge game changer as people felt safe to use their credit cards due to the website being a government website. However the product was a bad one as the server used to choke under heavy load. In such cases, the market still embraces the product as the un-met need is very high.
Where Magic Happens
This is the situation where a clear un-met need in the market meets an amazing product. There are numerous examples such as MakeMyTrip, BookMyShow, PayTM etc. which have left deep impact in our lives. I personally like the Uber story June 2010: Uber launches in San Francisco. At the time, it costs about 1.5 times as much as a cab, but you could request a car in San Francisco by sending a text or pressing a button. It quickly became a hit. A much needed service in the market and a great product like Uber, and the rest as they say is history. Uber grew and became the worlds’ most sought after start-up fighting rivals and regulators, operating in more than 80 countries today.
Similarly in 2011 when Flipkart launched the cash-on-delivery service, the flood gates opened for ecommerce in India. A better internet penetration, access to smart phones and a ton of mobile apps to make our lives easier, this was the right time, as the market was ready. Flipkart was able to convince Indian consumers to select the products online and pay at the time of delivery and eventually break the scepticism.
I personally meet a lot of start-up founders who come up with innovative solutions and are extremely passionate about the product; however they fail to assess the market conditions and fail. We at TruckHall have learnt it the hard way, as we had to wait for 5 years, before we could launch our product in the market i.e. when the market was ready for it.