Archive for May, 2010

Go-to-market strategies that can kill innovations

I think we can learn a lot from our own failures and also from how others around us fail. I would like to take a trip down my memory lane. Early in 2001, there was an interesting organization called iNabling Technologies founded in 1997 by John Aravamuthan. It also got a funding of  $3 million (B V Jagadeesh, Infinity Technology Investments, ICICI)

Making e-mail access affordable was the mission of Bangalore-based iNabling Technologies. The indigenously developed iStation was a low-cost e-mail device loaded with Engati software, which allows multiple language usage. The iNablers (as they call themselves) had also designed a POP server that costs one-tenth of a normal ISP server.

They had decided that apart from the consumer segment, they would also target Public Call Offices, where iStations can be installed to provide e-mail access at a nominal cost. STD/ISD booths have had remarkable success around India, so the idea of converting Public Call Offices into Public Email Offices was interesting.

They had a good working product providing a much in-demand service at a fraction of the current cost. However, they could not survive in the market for long. This was not because their product got obsolete, but because they were not able to sell their devices.

My understanding of the trouble was that the company hired people from the telecom industry who were ingrained in the philosophy of pushing stock to distrubutors and let them take care of the further downstream channel.

This approach did not work for the following reasons:

  1. The distributors (typically, the telecom distributors) were in no position to sell a niche product.
  2. No body spent time to build a brand around the product for the channel.
  3. Combination of the above lead to the situation that there was demand in the market (early adopters) but no one was there to explain the working of the product to these early adopters. They lost interest in the product and that was the doom of the product.

This is not an isolated instance where the wrong go-to-market approach can kill a good product in the market.

So, pls choose your partners carefully.

Have fun !!!

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