Events / Investing / Venture capital

Identifying ‘market white space’ with investor David Teten

Gaps in the market are opportunities. A VC who has backed a couple of Brooklyn firms offers his tips for finding them.

David Teten speaking at Techweek NYC 2014. (Photo by Brady Dale)

A VC who’s invested in Dumbo’s HowAboutWe and Fort Greene’s Gigit says the key to investing is finding a place in the market where customer needs are going unmet.

ff Venture Capital’s David Teten gave a presentation on identifying “market white space” at Techweek New York 2014.

For example, Teten said, MMS gave people a way to share images quickly over mobile, but Snapchat gave people a way to share them for only a few seconds. Companies that successfully identify white spaces are quickly and widely imitated. That’s why at startup networking events you’ll here a lot of versions of “Airbnb, but for cameras” or “Uber, but for buses” or “Facebook, but for cats.” That kind of thing.

Teten is a big advocate of going deep with his research. He put a SlideShare up on his website and it’s embedded below. However, to whet your appetite for digging through the whole thing, here are some of the standout points he made during his talk:

  • Private information is more valuable than public information. If you’re basing a venture on things you know because you’ve worked in the industry or have friends who do or found some secret report from AT&T lying in a bar somewhere, that’s more likely to yield a strong company than basing it on info anybody can look up online.
  • Research beyond Google. There’s a lot of information that Google doesn’t index. Go to libraries and look through the subscription-based databases they have access to. Go straight to sites with documents, like Scribd and SlideShare and look there. Search Google Books.
  • Look at the websites of failures. If someone tried to solve the same problem unsuccessfully, their website is probably down; however, some part of it is very likely to be at Archive.org. Have a look. The idea might not have been what sunk them. You can also use this site to look at old versions of current websites.
  • Cash is a good market signal; venture capital is a lousy one. If you can run a crowdfunding campaign on it, that’s a great sign; if it’s getting invested in now, it’s probably not going to get invested in.
  • Help others so they’ll help you. Before asking anyone to talk to you, ask yourself what you can do for them first. If there’s some way for them to see how you can help their work, they will be more likely to help yours.

Check out the full SlideShare here:

[slideshare id=2695435&doc=market-research-teten-091210231809-phpapp01]


FYI: Teten can also do vertical pushups.

Companies: ff Venture Capital / Gigit / HowAboutWe
Series: Brooklyn

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