I’m starting a company is a series about my pursuit of founding and building a startup in public. It’s an experiment in transparency and process sharing. My audience is full of first-time founders, solopreneurs, small business owners, and marketers. Is there a better way to learn and teach then by doing? At least, I’ll keep my skills fresh.

Considering the ethical implications of success

We’re going after a large established market. Estimates project our segment will hit $84B in 2024. There are three giants in the space. The rest of the market is fragmented. It’s clear that consolidation has played a key role. But, this is the disruptors dream scenario.

Consider Warby Parker. They entered the eyeglass market with a new approach for consumers (as well as competitive pricing). Their industry was dominated by one big play, Luxottica. At the time, Luxottica held 80% market share for glasses. Other examples include Dollar Shave Club vs. Gillette, and Glossier vs. big beauty.

A man considers the ethical decisions in front of him surrounding by many food options.
Ethical dilemmas as imagined by generative AI. At least, there’s plenty of food while we think.

Our aim is erode market share from stale, boring monopolies. The ethical dilemma is what happens on the road to getting big enough to compete with dinosaurs. In other words, who gets hurt if we win? I’m not worried about the balance-sheet rich. I’m worried about our effect on the ecosystem for small players. Will our story play like Amazon vs. bookstores?

It’s worth considering these ethical questions ahead of success. Especially, if you prefer to be proactive instead of responsive. Capitalism isn’t a choice. How we move within capitalism is. I’d like to be considerate.

Research: Know your customer and industry

I made a mistake the last time I built a startup. We were in travel. An area I had both experience and passion. I made lots of assumptions. I held onto the assumptions until I was forced to consider the facts. The fundraising process forced me to provide hard evidence. Trusting your gut is useful. However, being well-informed benefits your intuition.

First, I wanted to get a crash course in my industry and the players, so I turned to ChatGPT. High level information is great when you’re getting started. But, founders need to get into the weeds. You’ll need data and insights from experts too. Here’s a list of places you may find information to help you in your journey. Many of these sources will require some money. Being a founder isn’t cheap.

A founding team researches its industry and customer journey.
Photo by UX Indonesia on Unsplash

List of Research Websites for Founders

  • JSTOR: You may remember this name from college. A place to research for your essay writing. Major key alerteach month you can get 100 free articles! If you’re looking for free resources, start here. (Price Rating: $)
  • IBIS World: Great for detailed industry reports, including market size, trends, and forecasts. (Price Rating: $$$$$)
  • Market Research: Similar to IBIS. It provide a wide range of market research reports across various industries. You may be able to negotiate on pricing with a sales rep. (Price Rating: $$$$$)
  • Statista: It’s a comprehensive platform with statistics, market research, and business intelligence. It’s expensive, but offers transparent subscription access. One year on the starter plan costs about the same price as one report from IBIS or Market Research. (Price Rating: $$$)
  • Academic and Research Institutions: You can gain access to lots of research and data without being a student. Check out this article to help you navigate all the resources. (Price Rating: n/a)
  • Trade Organizations and Publications: Every industry has orgs that produce reports and share data. There is still a price. But, it’s more competitive than the big players that cover multiple industries. I recommend using a search engine or GPT to list the top orgs and publications in your industry or sector. Then, you sniff out which one might be most useful to your research. (Price Rating: $-$$)
  • AI-Powered Tools and Search Engines: Depending on your needs, you might want to turn to other tools. Such as, Google Scholar for academic papers and reports. Or, Semantic Scholar for scientific literature. You can also use Nexis Uni (Price Rating: $$$). In addition, ProQuest can aggregate industry reports from several sources.

Stay current with networking and newsletter subscriptions

The list above is great for deep research and reports. Research takes time, which means it’s not always of-the-moment. Large databases and reports also need some of your own analysis. If you want your information distilled, I recommend finding industry experts. By now, most people with current data and smart takes, have a newsletter or social platform.

Follow industry leaders and brands. You may not want to pay for a newsletter but it can be invaluable. Spending $5-$20/month on industry intelligence and micro trends may be a lifesaver. And, it’s multiples cheaper than buying into some of the options above.

Day 2, it’s a wrap.