Many a start-up or entrepreneur has faced the choice of going for specific verticals (targets within an industry) OR flattening out to embrace a variety of industry and needs. An evolution is occurring in that we no longer must make it an either/or scenario. Rather, we are experiencing an evolution towards creating a sphere of influence and skills. This sphere is broad enough to capture a variety of verticals, while not leaving yourself open to expansion beyond what’s comfortable. It’s the tactics, the experiences, and the innovation inherent in nimble, flexible organizations that will make them far more resilient in turbulent times than those who are married to the vertical vs. horizontal approach to business.
For example, when someone says, “Silicon Valley start-up,” you most likely have visions of tech-centered companies developing a new iPhone app or a funky gadget that will soon be all the rage. You almost certainly don’t think of the food industry, but that is exactly the new market that Silicon Valley has in its sights. Many venture capitalists don’t find this new venture unusual, likening a food company to an energy company that promotes sustainability or fitness devices that contribute to health. Josh Tetrick, founder and chief executive of Hampton Creek Foods, says, “Part of the reason you’re seeing all these VCs get interested in this is the food industry is not only massive, but like the energy industry, it is terribly broken in terms of its impact on the environment, health and animals.” However, instead of leaving these issues for the food industry giants to solve, the tech industry is using their knowledge and skills to add innovative solutions and lead the way for change.