When do successful businesses graduate from being single-product ideas into platforms? We’re not sure there’s a proven formula out there. But one convincing guess (Hey, spot the oxymoron!) is that they become platforms on a need to respond to market dynamics, which usually include the motions of demand-and-supply, opportunities for brand extension/spin-off or embedding stolen features from competitors (Yes, we went there!) etc.
We think it’s an interesting business paradigm to approach businesses as platforms as opposed to single ideas. (Caveat: We are sure there might be exemptions out there). Every business, at a point, is confronted with the need to scale: in customer base, for revenue opportunities, geographical expansion etc. – all geared towards increasing market share or, sometimes, giving competition a run.
Classic examples of businesses as platforms are Apple: Once a personal computer seller; now music, mobile phones, apps and, still unbelievable – wrist watches). Google: Once a search giant but has many products under its umbrella we are afraid this blog space may not accommodate all if we start listing them). Mavin Records – of course, we have cool home-based case-studies: Once a record label but now uses its social equity to generate revenues from brand ambassadorship, partnership with digital publishers etc.
Sometimes, it’s not in the best interest of a smart entrepreneur to obsess over a single business idea – product or service, without the wisdom to scale or metamorphose into a platform. An entrepreneur too focused on a single product may lose sight of bigger opportunities. Hey, we are not proposing this as a new trend in business; just a nudge worth-responding to. It’s not a call to change business models but a tweak on a mindset that limits businesses from seeing opportunities to grow or, say, adapt to new business motions. And, of course, we are not encouraging a saturation of markets with substandard products and services in the name of platform. We’re suckers for well-executed product offerings and so we propose that, when it’s time to scale, do it commonsensically.
Wait, it looks like we have a formula here: Start with a product, gain momentum, become profitable, gain more momentum, spot new opportunities – within or without, and start to scale. You have a platform, baby!
(We should consider patenting this formula). 😉