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Hi, I'm Sean Oliver.

I'm a product marketer living in San Francisco, CA and working at Optimizely. This is my personal blog where I write about marketing, startups, and life.

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Sean Oliver

Pick a Small Market

I recently attended a talk by Peter Thiel at a conference in Mountain View. One of the things he said really resonated with me:

I think it's less about picking a small market and more about finding a way to enter a large market that no one else is looking at.

When Airbnb first launched, the concept of short-term rentals had already existed, but that market was small relative to the multibillion dollar hotel industry. Competing for the larger industry at the outset would've been difficult and expensive -- in all likelihood, a losing proposition.

Instead, they picked the smaller market and aggressively maximized their market share. As they captured share, they also captured resources and they built a winning marketplace that could compete with the big hotel chains.

There are countless examples like this. Successful companies (usually) don't jump into direct competition with huge, multi-billion dollar corporations. They compete on the fringes for the land that's not valuable enough for big companies to waste their time on. Before long, they've amassed enough of a war chest to go after the larger companies and win.

So I guess the lesson is: Pick a small market (at first).