“Before the Market Map” Challenges for Market Intel Researchers

I ran across a fantastic piece by Arlen Meyers, President and CEO, Society of Physician Entrepreneurs, about how difficult it is for an innovator to create and enter a new product category. He notes, for example, since 2021 “nearly 200 AI-powered radiology and cardiovascular devices have received FDA clearance” (a recent CB Insights’ market map shows 96 AI vendors in radiology). Pointing out the saturation of tech markets, he links to another great post by Spencer Peterson, who states: “The volume of logos, addressing relatively niche markets, is astounding. How did we end up with 200 compliance automation tools — just for institutional finance?”

In considering the question posed, “are products entering tech markets differentiated enough to carve out their own niches?” and the observation “if there’s a market map, you’re too late,” Dr. Meyers uses the example of Pear Therapeutics. Pear Therapeutics is a prescription digital therapies innovator who announced Chapter 11 bankruptcy and endured the challenges of “making a market” for a new solution type. Dr. Meyers provides a terrific list of considerations for innovators considering creating and entering new product categories.

Identifying and researching “making a market” and “before the market map” innovators is enormously challenging as their products and solutions might be so new they have yet to be identified, let alone categorized for discovery (if you think about it, the word innovation means “the introduction of something new” in the dictionary).

Here are a few ideas to start the research process for identifying “before the market map” products/solutions.

In the closest-related market/area you are researching:

  • Research/identify the most influential and well-informed content providers, analysts, and thought leaders and follow/read their reporting and write-ups about new innovations.
  • Identify key challenges, pain points and market gaps then do deeper dives for mentions of startups/innovators addressing those identified challenges.
  • Check out new product and solution competitions, not necessarily for the actual winners or runner ups, but to identify key trends and innovations.
  • Founders will operate in the open or in stealth mode. If they are public facing then they most likely will keep visible and promote heavily. If the identified company is operating in stealth mode, a double challenge is presented. You can read more on finding information on startups in stealth mode here.

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