Ask an Expert: What do you prioritize to quickly grow in a competitive industry?

Aug 18, 2016

Welcome to Invest Ottawa’s new series Ask an Expert; where OUR experts answer YOUR questions. If you have a startup related question and are looking for some help, send us an email. Our EIR’s, Advisors, and Entrepreneurs are on the job!

Our first question comes from one of our in-house startups, Welbi.

For the first time ever, there are now more people in Canada age 65 and over than there are under age 15, according to Statistics Canada. The number of seniors is expected to increase steadily in the foreseeable future. As a unanimous feeling, the well-being of aging relatives always seems to pang the hearts of family members. That’s why Felipe Izquierdo, Nick Petryna, and Elizabeth Audette-Bourdeau decided to start the seniors care conversation by launching their app: Welbi.

“Taking care of our elderly family members, while still allowing them to be independent, is difficult. No one on our team could find a solution that provided the peace of mind that our families need, so we decided to build one ourselves,” says Felipe.

Using off-the-shelf wearables, Welbi is able to track and record the health progression of aging loved ones. The app’s platform analyzes and aggregates the data (heartbeat, sleeping patterns, etc.) to form reports and notify you should any irregularities form. Welbi’s goal is to help families become better informed and better coordinate their effort of taking care of an elderly loved one.

Currently the Ottawa start-up is in their beta phase, bootstrapping their operations. In the future they hope to crack the international market with their product, connecting anyone with a smartphone and piece of wearable technology to their loved ones.

With growing concern around the aging population becoming prevalent, many global companies are focusing R&D in this industry. So Welbi needs to know “what should be prioritized when your company needs to grow quickly to succeed in a competitive industry?”

Ask an Expert

Christopher Johnson: Founder & CEO of Face Strategic, L-Spark Mentor & Invest Ottawa EIR


Christopher Johnson

In order to scale and accelerate in a competitive landscape; companies need to achieve two fundamental things.

The first is to clearly determine your value proposition, demonstrating clear, competitive differentiator(s).  If your target market doesn’t understand the value of your product or service, what will stop them from buying from your competitors?

Second, companies require validation and a proven sales and marketing model.  Without clear validation and a proven model, companies can waste an inordinate amount of capital on unproven tactics.  How can you achieve rapid growth by pursuing the wrong buyer or investing in a flawed inbound marketing strategy?

If you have validated your product as well as proven your sales and marketing strategy, venture capital or angel funding is an option to scale quickly. This is especially applicable in a case where it provides a competitive advantage by taking market share from the competition.

Sam Khan: VP Operations and Business Development of iStorm & Invest Ottawa EIR

Sam Khan

Sam Khan

Speed to market and a sound guerrilla marketing plan can be a big difference when competing against other companies in your market.

Paid advertising such as Google Adwords or Facebook advertising will get your brand in front of your customers for a low cost and will build your brand’s awareness. You need to concentrate on creating a ‘buzz’ around your application and position yourselves as a thought leader in your space; by doing this you set yourself ahead of your competition and establish yourself as an expert. I would recommend producing blog articles or videos to create micro-commercials of your product.

Another thing to consider is partnering. The more applications which Welbi can sync with, the more value your clientele can take away from it. I’ll use fitness wearables as an example. Fitbit is compatible with a surplus of other well-used apps and does a great job of creating a complete ecosystem which covers the user’s life. So not only is Fitbit a great singular product, but plays an important role in the overall fitness lifestyle.

So in Short…

Differentiation is Key

Your product and your competitor’s product are not the same and your customers should know that. Differentiating yourself will create the value in the eyes of your customers and set your product aside.

Become a Thought Leader in Your Space

Becoming a thought leader involves more than just saying you are an expert in your field. Create blogs, videos, and any other content that displays your knowledge and puts your product ahead of your competition.

Partner WITH the Best to BE the Best

Partnering with applications and product not only provides you validation but also gives value to your customers. Create partnerships with applications and products which align with your customers.

Have a business question for our experts?

Email us at [email protected] and we’ll be in touch!

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