Okay, every week we think we might run out of interesting startups to look at– and we end up finding more to start stalking. I guess we should’ve known that given that:
— startup funding across all industries grew by 50% worldwide between 2012 & 2017, and
— the rate at which startups were hitting the unicorn level ($1B+ valuation) is at 353.1 the rate compared to 2013 (source).
(*cough, Millennial cuspers & Gen Z going for remote freelancing & entrepreneurship more than any other generation, leaving the idea of decades-long careers long-gone, cough*.)
Startup Breeding Ground: The In-Between Connectors of Age-Old Practices
This week we wanted to find a startup in the sweet spot of entrenched industries: connecting long-standing services to make the entire process easier. We know this is a breeding ground for startups despite the age of an industry because old practices result in a “this is how it’s always been” mentality, making people think (without even realizing it) that the hoops you have to jump through, red tape, logistics, and time it takes is just “how it is.”
For example, getting married should be a fun affair, right? I mean assuming we’ve grown from dowries, it should be a fun event where you party, cry a bit if you’re sentimental, and then sign a paper to make it official. But no, couples end up needing at least a year to plan the standard wedding. They have to handle gift registries, invitations, event locations, scheduling, catering, travel, and after all that, still wait in line to sign a paper to make it official before moving on to the aftermath: changing last names, filing taxes differently, etc.
In this industry with its time-consuming practices and stressful logistics, there’s one career that popped out and is now standard to have: a wedding planner to do the heavy lifting for you. Someone that knows how jacked up the industry and processes are, and can pave the way forward, making it less overwhelming and taking a cut of the expense themselves.
Enter the construction industry, and you’re looking at a similarly red-taped, complicated, and time-consuming endeavor. If you’re working with the city to build a commercial business, we all know that’ll go slow even if we have no real experience working with whatever city planning department that is. If it’s your own home that you own and have lived on, chances are you still need to be in contact with a HOA and whatever companies can tell you if you’re going to hit a gas line if you dig.
Amongst this age of reckoning and facing old habits, we knew we should look at these precise connector-type roles for a cool startup, and we found Homebound. Aside from making us think of that one heart-wrenching sad-dog movie, it struck us as something that’s hard to come by so quickly in brand strategy: ingrained corporate social responsibility (CSR), since they came about as a response to the devastating Tubbs fire in Northern California at the end of 2017.
Huzzah–exactly as we thought, Homebound is becoming the way cooler (to us) version of a wedding planner, but for housing, particularly for those thousands of homes lost to the fire. Seeing that the industry of rebuilding a home, building permits, utilizing insurance, financing, architecture & design, construction, and moving in, is only made slightly easier by using a realtor (and any other handful of liaisons for every piece of the pie), we see Homebound invading the space as a full-on “let us handle everything for you” player.
Game Plan: Precede & Endure
What we see going wrong for somebody like Homebound, as decade-long strategists in branding and marketing, is losing their simplicity and connection to human wants by trying to jut into too many niches. As they grow their ability to partner with networks of movers, interior designers, contractors, realtors, financers, and more, brand strategy must precede them to ensure their demographic and psychographic targets still see only 1 thing: that hiring them is easier and necessary. Simple. Less hassle than other avenues. Fewer groups of liaisons and counselors and advisors and consultants. And that, let’s not forget what they have right now at the beginning, that crucial CSR that makes them immediately more local-feeling, trustworthy, reliable, and conscious.
Branching into other niches is totally doable with the right strategy. It’s when companies forget why their first niche is the one that got them off the ground in the first place that they slip and plunder.
As the connectors of the marketing and advertising industry…
We know what has to happen between ads, site copy, conversion optimization, outreach, social media management, PR, and everything else to make the sales cycle (and therefore business) run smoothly. We get our booming clients the niches they want without losing their original hearts. We get them high-ROI investments because we know how to position them in the markets that need them. And most importantly, we tell it to them straight– when they’re about to slip and fall, when they’re being too careful, and when they’re not being outrageous enough.
That’s kind of our whole deal and, like Homebound, we build people up to where they want to be. Good to see ya listed in Forbes, Homebound, maybe our CEO will see you at the next Forbes Council meeting and we can talk strategy.
From the in-between connectors, over and out.