Market Research + Niche = Great Product & Profits

Corina Ludwig, President of FunctionFox

Corina Ludwig, President of FunctionFox

FunctionFox got into the software-as-a-service (SAAS) marketplace early, developing a simple time tracking sheet for ad agencies, design firms and other small, creative teams.

Starting early meant that they didn’t have any web-based competition when they started, but it also meant they had to overcome some initial resistance to the idea of web-based time tracking.

Combining a focus on simplicity and a super team offering superior customer service, they’ve managed to grow to over 1000 customers in 100 countries, and they have an 85% retention rate. Not bad for a little company on an island in Canada!

Keys to Successful International Growth

FunctionFox did several things right:

1. They found a well-defined niche and stuck with it.

That made it easy to figure out where to advertise, who the key industry players were, and meant they could develop a software product that was ideally suited for their potential customers.

2. They did thorough research to make sure the demand was there.

In addition to getting local companies to test the product, they called 400 companies across Canada to find out what they were currently using to deal with the problem they knew they could solve. This meant that they not only knew there was market demand, they had a great prospect list to go to as soon as the product was ready.

3. They made themselves look international.

Like it or not, American companies like to think that they are buying from American companies. So until they had established a solid reputation FunctionFox avoided having an exact address on the website (having a US address would be even better), and they used US pricing. (Ideally you would offer both US and Canadian $ pricing.)

4. They hired and have retained great staff.

No product is perfect, so having happy, friendly, well-trained staff who can support your customers and answer questions from prospects is essential. They’ve done this by hiring for personality and fit with the organization’s values, offering flexibility so employees can deal with family issues when needed, and creating fun and rewarding events to keep staff motivated and happy.

How did you discover your market niche?

Did you stumble into it? Create something you wanted? Do a bunch of research to discover a need? Tell us below!

If you are still trying to figure out your niche, what’s the biggest challenge you have in doing so?

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