GLOSS Issue 20 FEB 2015 - Page 29

Niche and community focused businesses Australian companies tackle niche markets 14% more often than those in Silicon Valley. A great case study is handmade and creative community focused tickle your imagination magazine (of which I am an investor), that at a time where print is dying out, has successfully crowdfunded its print editions – receiving higher than expected amounts in just over 10 days. The magazine recognised a niche segment, started small by building a product for the community and grew locally and recently went global. Scaling will make or break companies 2014 was a good year for Australian startups – particularly tech startups. Most followed the momentum from 2013 to pitch for and receive funding to grow their business. 2015 will be the year for these small businesses to scale up and grow significantly, or face some harsh realities about their ventures. With increased funding support from angel investors, banks and other institutions, the While mass consumerism will not go away anytime soon, business ideas and growth will spring from people working together to integrate technical capabilities true to the needs of communities. Collaborative consumption will also fuel businesses such as TuShare that enables people to give and receive unused household items for free to anyone in Australia. 2015 will see more people start businesses that help overcome a challenge they faced, a passion they share with others or help address a problem close to their heart. pitching platform has never been as active. The mood is similar to that of the dotcom era. This year could be the reality check which will either reiterate the strength of Australian startups and small businesses that, in turn, will help bring more VC money to our shores, or go the same way as dotcom companies 10 years ago. A lot of this will also depend on how much more entrenched technology will get into our lives and subsequently, the infrastructure around us. Are we reaching a saturation point or is this just the tip of the iceberg? Only time will tell. The changing nature of competitiveness The ubiquitous nature of technology has made everyone an expert on everything - particularly in service industries. Reduced manufacturing costs have also resulted in minimal product differences across any range. Where previously competition was based on product, design and price, wars are now being fought on whole new battlegrounds. Value, conversations, content and customer experience is setting brands apart from their competitors. Every brand, from the biggest in the world to small startups, is trying to engage in positive dialogue with its communities in the hope of dra ݥ