This morning I was reading some of the old post of one of my favorite bloggers Chris Dixon. Back in November 2012 he wrote a great post titled “Some problems are so hard they need to be solved piece by piece” and talked mostly about the Craigslist conundrum. Essentially this conundrum is that Craigslist seems like an easy target for startups since there has been so little innovation on the platform. However, entrepreneurs who have attacked Craigslist by trying to recreate a horizontal platform have mostly failed in comparison to those of have gone after vertical pieces of the classified market.
The secret sauce here is all about focus. When starting a new company, your focus is probably your only advantage over your competition. Chris Dixon states:
The benefits of focusing are: 1) you can create a dramatically better user experience when it’s tailored to a specific use, 2) you can do unscalable hacks when starting out (e.g. AirBnb paying photographers to take pictures of apartments), 3) you need far fewer users to get to minimum viable liquidity, and 4) brand building is easier when you solve a straightforward, narrow problem (e.g. “I need a place to stay this weekend”).