April 30, 2019

Finding a niche is not enough

Robin Vander Heyden @Vinrob

Here's a great lesson I've had over the past years building things: Finding a niche is not enough.

I previously started StudentFlatMaastricht (an online letting for international students that grew to 250k/year) and now run ManyPixels ($50k/month)

Starting with a niche is important (so that you can build a product/service tailored to the needs of that niche, and it's easier to find ways to market to it). But I would go one step further: Focus on users that have the "highest urgency" to buy your product. Or in other words: Focus on the "white-hot center", users that have a burning pain to use your product (in the words of James Currier).

For example, for my online letting agency, I started only by focusing on international students (my niche), and my "white hot center" was students from Singapore since they couldn't come and see the place in person, and I catered solely to them at the beginning by recording videos, getting on Skype calls with them etc. It gave them HUGE value and kickstarted things from there.

Same for my design-as-a-service. I started with users that had a very very urgent need of making illustrations for their landing pages.

TL:DR: Find a niche, and find the "white-hot center" in that niche.


  1. 6

    You found the niche within the niche. Well, technically speaking, all niches are within niches within niches within niches… ;-)

    Perhaps this is something we should all put on our validation checklists for evaluating the quality of a potential market. When identifying your initial target market, how niche do you go? Ideally it needs to be…

    • small enough to be under-served by the bigger players
    • big enough for you to get to profitability with
    • situated within some bigger niche that you can expand to once you've saturated the current one

    And, on top of the above items, there are all the other things you'd like to see in your target market:

    • burning pain point that they care about urgently
    • people you both understand and enjoy interacting with
    • enough money to pay the price point you want to sell at
    • easy to reach via various distribution channels where they've clustered together
    • innovators who are comfortable using new things that are rough around the edges
    • etc
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      This comment was deleted a year ago.

  2. 5

    What exactly was your agency letting the students do?

    1. 3

      letting is another way of saying renting. So he’s showing apartments for students to checkout and possibly rent for when they decide to move for school

      1. 2

        Hmm... must be a regional dialect. Good to know!

      2. 1


        1. 1

          Does "renting" sound odd to you or are both normal to your ears?

  3. 2

    This is inspiring because I'm planning on renting out one of my United States property to Asian International Students attending the local college.

    Also, I like your ideas of "urgency" and "white-hot center". I am building a dating app, and I target "desperation" and "fear of missing out". It is similar.

  4. 1

    "Focus on users that have the "highest urgency" to buy your product." Great advice. Cheers! (and congrats on the success with two ventures!)