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Startup Secret 54: Build for the 1%

Why you should focus on a tiny sub-set of your target market at first. And why not.

"Everyone in the Valley uses a Mac."

--Stephen Brady, CEO, Found

I was curious why a desktop software maker would launch its first app on the Mac. Despite its vocal supporters, Apple still accounts for only a small percentage of the global computing desktops and laptops.

Stephen Brady, the CEO of the startup Found (see my review,Personal search app Found scans cloud and local data), explained it to me. Mac users are more engaged, he said. They download more stuff. And then there's the Mac App Store, which just takes a lot of the hassle out of dealing with retail software sales. It's a better experience for the small Found team, in other words.

And then he dropped the "Everyone in the Valley uses a Mac" line on me, which sounds flip, but isn't. While his eventual target market is much bigger than Silicon Valley, there is a lot to be said for building a product targeted at the most vocal subset of users. And it's a nice bonus if they're also the ones who can fund your startup.

The story goes that Starbucks opened up its first Wall Street store right around the time it went public. CEO Howard Schultz wanted the people who could make his stock perform to be exposed to the brand and the product.

The challenge is to make the transition to the world outside the bubble, though. One could argue that if it's at all possible, it makes a lot more sense to focus on the real world first. The elites, or at least their money, will then eagerly follow. Example: Pinterest. The reverse path is not assured.

Startup Secrets is based on personal interviews with people building companies, and from their blog posts and news stories. Subscribe to Startup Secrets on Twitter or come back to Rafe's Radar for new ones. See all the Startup Secrets.