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If you pitched a blockchain platform in 2016, only tech lovers knew what you were talking about. In 2017, most people would have asked if you meant Bitcoin. But now, in 2018, blockchain is finally becoming a household word. And over the next few years, this technology that was recently obscure might become the biggest leap forward since the internet itself.
Driving that revolution are waves of entrepreneurs hoping to make it big with their innovative blockchain solutions. The good news is that investors and prospective buyers now take these inventors seriously. The bad news is that the competition to get noticed in the world of blockchain is stiffer than ever — and the market is getting fuller by the day.
Entrepreneurs who want to see their blockchain platforms rise above the rest have their work cut out for them. To come out on top, modern blockchain companies must identify what makes their solutions special and leverage that advantage into market success.
The Immediate Future of Blockchain
Blockchain will continue to gain market traction in 2019 as more entrepreneurs flock to the technology.
According to experts at the IDC, blockchain spending will reach $9.7 billion by 2021. Consumers and businesses alike are fascinated by the idea of heightened security, perfect transparency, and improved efficiency. Why shouldn’t they be? With blockchain, many of the problems of the old internet could disappear overnight.
Of course, great potential attracts plenty of financial interest — and plenty of would-be entrepreneurs who want a piece of the pie. The next few years will see plenty of new startups, enterprise collaboration with small companies, investment dollars, and attempts at regulation. As that chaos clears, the blockchain experts and investors who weathered the storm will emerge as leaders of a vibrant new market.
How to Evaluate Your Blockchain Platform
If you believe your blockchain platform could change the world, you’re not alone. Thousands of people are gearing up to compete with you for blockchain dominance. Many of them, however, will attempt to enter the market with half-baked ideas, which means that entrepreneurs who take blockchain seriously have a serious advantage.
Follow these five tips to evaluate the commercial potential of your blockchain platform:
1. Listen to the Experts
You might be your toughest critic, but you’re also the person least likely to spot the flaws in something you made. Solicit quality feedback by outsourcing your review process to an external team. Don’t leave the task to your full-time employees — they are almost as invested in the product’s success as you are.
Third-party blockchain platform reviewers study the evolving blockchain market. They not only know what you’re building, but what your competitors are building. If your prized feature already flopped or five other companies are about to beat you to market, your reviewer will know.
Find someone outside your company to evaluate your platform’s chances, then listen when they tell you what they see. You might not like it, but it’s much easier to make adjustments before you launch.
2. Call the SWOT Team
Every serious entrepreneur should know how to conduct a SWOT analysis. By analyzing your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, you can provide context for your platform and understand where you fit in the market.
For example, say your platform boasts an amazingly easy-to-use interface. That’s a strength that could help you achieve high growth. If you don’t have much capital, that’s a weakness that could prevent you from moving as quickly as you’d like. Your opportunities include sectors that need your platform and are eager to adopt it, while your threats include competitor activity.
Work out your SWOT analysis, then use your findings to project your ROI. Not only will this give you a grounded view of your place in the market, but it could also help you attract the attention of investors if you can show a clear path toward market dominance.
3. Evaluate the Competition
Part of your SWOT analysis should include a brief look at your competitors. Independently from that high-level view, do a deep dive into your competitive situation to see where your advantages (and disadvantages) lie.
Everyone has a killer team, a unique product, and a strong business plan. Look deeper than that. What do the incumbent platforms lack that you provide? What are your competitors’ value propositions, and how can you make yours sound more appealing? Consider whether the market you want to target has the capacity to handle another entrant.
4. Consider a Patent
Not every invention needs a patent, but when you pour your heart into a blockchain platform, it’s natural to want to protect that work. Only a patent attorney can tell you for sure whether you need one, but you can get a good idea on your own.
First, consider which part of your invention is truly unique. The U.S. Patent Office only grants patents for things that are exceptionally different, which means that a function of your platform — not the platform itself — is more likely to be eligible. If you followed the first tip and consulted a third-party reviewer, that reviewer can help you determine whether any aspects of your invention might qualify for a patent.
5. Think in Big Terms
Sure, your blockchain platform is great. How great it is depends on how you see the future.
Look beyond the next 18 months and think about the next few years. How will people of the future use blockchain? Is your platform ready to operate in that environment? Think about how industries will evolve — will your blockchain platform be ready to service sectors outside your target niche?
Again, an extra set of eyes can help. Ask your third-party reviewer to help you discover market segments you might not have considered before. The further you look into the future, the better prepared you’ll be to conquer the market.
Blockchain isn’t a niche subject anymore. If you want your blockchain platform to change the world, you can’t assume the medium alone is enough to ensure your success. Follow these tips to evaluate your commercial potential, then use that knowledge to adjust your strategy and come out on top of a massive emerging market.