Looking for Shiny Dimes: How to Find Undiscovered Emerging Niches

Chris Dixon’s writing has long influenced a lot of my thinking. He wrote:

“It’s a good bet these present-day hobbies will seed future industries. What the smartest people do on the weekends is what everyone else will do during the week in ten years.”

(Source: What the smartest people do on the weekend is what everyone else will do during the week in ten years)

As a longtime Silicon Valley resident, I’m always fascinated by technology trends.

You read all the latest books both non-fiction and science fiction, you talk to many young startups, you read anything and everything whether they are science papers, articles or subscribe to newsletters like meetglimpse.com or trends.co. You can also use Google word searches for new keywords. Or tracking App Annie to look at fast rising apps on the edge as a signal for which sectors are growing.

The question is why do all of this. It is to answer the question on everyone’s mind: what is coming next? And of course, trying to spot them before anyone else.

What has been shown over and over again is that “The Next Big Thing” ie. the coolest new things in tech and media will happen on the edges. This will usually be done by newcomers and outsiders experimenting. These are the folks you should be watching.

It sounds simple, look at where the smartest people are spending their time either industry wise or hobby wise.

So how do you do this?

One of the best thinkers on internet communities, Greg Isenberg spends time on surging topics, FB groups & Subreddits for opportunities.

The questions he asks are:

  • How do you figure out what they need?
  • What product around this can you build to serve them?
  • How do you find an audience & community and then go build a product?

Why is exploring these internet communities important?

“People who spend a lot of time exploring these subcultures feel like they can see into the future, and for good reason. What happens online often shows up in the headlines weeks, months, or even years later. The internet has become the petri dish of culture — the soil in which new movements and novel conversations find root.”

“WHEN AN INTERNET SUBCULTURE GROWS large enough, it often gets spotlighted in the mainstream media. But old-school media outlets watch internet culture on tape delay. By the time they identify a subcultural tribe, it’s usually already splintered or evolved into something different. This cycle has played out a number of times over the last decade, but it seems to have picked up steam since the Gamergate controversy of 2014. The time lag between Extremely Online conversations and mainstream newspapers/TV reveals that 20th century institutions no longer set the pace.”

(Source: The garden of forking memes: how digital media distorts our sense of time — AZL)

These communities act as potential tripwires for the future. So it behooves all of us to pay attention.

As former Secretary of State Dean Rusk once said “If you don’t pay attention to the periphery, the periphery changes and the first thing you know the periphery is the center”

Written by

Ever curious: Tsundoku, Reader, Aspiring Shokunin, World traveller, Investor & Tech/Media exec interested in almost everything! www.marvinliao.com

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