In Web2, the biggest technology organizations mostly began deceptively small.
- Facebook: social network at Harvard
- Netflix: DVD by mail
- Amazon: leading online retailer for books
Facebook grew into becoming the world's largest social network. Netflix became internet streaming. And Amazon made its way to becoming the everything store. A strong argument can be made that these companies wouldn't be as big as they now are had they started from the opposite side with grander market positions.
Positioning is about sacrifice. Think of it like one giant iceberg.
Above the waterline, your position should pinpoint your role and relevance in the next year to two years, and should only reach spaces you can own in the near term. The communication of what's below your waterline, such as your sales strategy or long-term vision, will likely fall on deaf ears.
The strategy to sacrificing helps you avoid a dangerous trap: being all things to all people. You have to say no. Behind every "no" is a deeper "yes" towards the audience that matters the most. I would as two important, filtering questions in outlining my positioning strategy:
- who are we actually going to go after?
- who are we NOT going to go after (for now)?
For example, Nike, in its early days began with runners. Phil Knight went to track meetups and sold his shoes there from the start. Runners like to talk to other runners. Nike travelled in the word of mouth of runners, because it was positioned for runners, and not basketball.
What's remarkable is that the same principle of sacrificing to find your market position doesn't neatly carry over to Web3. Blockchain protocols have a unique variable in the positioning equation: community. The communities here span from the core team, to builders, researchers, non-technical enthusiasts and eventually retail investors.
If you're an L1, the illustration of how big you'll become from the start can be immensely captivating. The risk is over-hyping your project. Overpromising and underdelivering is unattractive in Web3.
My hypothesis is that the sacrifice in positioning is more on the utility of the blockchain protocol. Instead of saying "here's all the things you'll be able to do", you say "here's the one cool thing you can do right now". Then, you introduce new narratives of use cases in sequence, revealing your iceberg as a function of time.