June 12, 2006 Nice Markets for the Potential ISV I’ve been asked to give my thoughts on the markets I’d be looking at if I was back in the planning stage of my ISV. This is truly the most important choice you’ll make in starting your business. Picking the wrong market will likely doom you no matter what you do. On the other end, the right market will at least give you an opportunity to succeed. Below I’ve put together a list of a few markets I’d be looking at. These are not product ideas, simply markets where I think there’s an opportunity for a small ISV. Some are obvious and some are out there. I’m looking forward to your feedback. 1. Real Estate Man I love the real estate market. There’s just loads of money in real estate. Better yet, the real estate industry is remarkably backwards. Most deals are still done face to face. Most contacts are still “who you know” Rolodex deals. I see a few opportunities here. While I’d love to see a good competitor to realtor.com that’s unrealistic for a small ISV. What’s realistic is tools for real estate offices. Organizational tools, marketing management tools, customer contact tools. There’s lots of companies in these areas but none too big that I know of and also lots of unconquered agencies where they’re still not using computers as much as they should. 2. Celebrity Gossip I love celebrity gossip. Again lots of money there. I don’t have a great angle on this, but I know there’s products in there someplace. Just look at night time TV. From 7-8pm on CBS and NBC it’s nothing but gossip. Look at the grocery checkouts, blogs like gawker.com, and daytime TV. 3. Project Management There’s loads of PM tools out there, but honestly they’re almost all bad. That said I think the best bet here is a niche specific PM tools. Perhaps PM for ISV’s, PM for construction companies, whatever. Just something where you can customize the experience for that market and thereby have a better story to get your foot in the door. 4. Auto Service I always wish my auto service providers had a nice website. Not just nice, but highly functional. Let me make my appointment online, get a loaner, get email reminders about my oil changes, histories of the work they’ve done. Independent auto service providers are having a tough time competing with bigco dealers. Great software could be a differentiator for them. 5. CRM Sure there’s loads of these out there. Again though I think lots of room for improvement. Better yet lots of room for customization. What about a CRM tool that was nothing more than a framework for modules. You provide some core modules, but leave the API open and simple so that customers can truly have a custom application at a fraction of the price. Right now everyone is shoehorning their data into Sugar and Goldmine. A web based truly customizable solution would have a strong market. You could also sell modules for harder components. 6. Wedding Planning What a great niche. Loads of opportunity here on both the B2B and B2C sides. Management tools for event halls, bride helpers, and my favorite … communication tools. In the weddings I’ve been involved in the biggest issue is communication amongst all the various parties. The families, the wedding parties, getting dates for bridal showers, bachelor/bachelorette parties, rehearsal dinners, who’s bringing what and to where on and on. Wrap Up Of course this list is by no means complete. There’s as many markets as there are problems. I’m looking forward to a bit of banter about these and your own ideas.