“Why do we need to worry about our category as a startup right now?”
That’s a common question. The category game is not for every business.
Small businesses play in existing categories. Big businesses dominate categories that are already mature and well understood.
Those category roads are already paved.
But ambitious startups are either creating new categories or moving around existing categories.
“What exactly is your product or service?” is not as simple to answer when you start if you are really doing something new or very different.
You are paving a new category road that doesn’t exist yet.
The category game the primary game you will be playing to scale fast, get big, and keep growing.
- Big markets require easy purchase decisions with simple categories that are well understood. “Smartphone” is well understood now and billions of people buy it without thinking about the category.
- We buy from category leaders who make the thing that is best for us. Category leaders walk away with the spoils in any market. Can you think of the fourth or tenth smartphone player after Apple, Android, and (I can’t think of a third)?
If you have serious investors or are thinking big, your ultimate job as a founder is to win the category game you are playing.