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Navigating those early stages: research in its many forms

This is the third in a series of articles charting the progress of participants from HutZero, a new cyber security entrepreneur acceleration programme run by Cyber London (CyLon) and the Centre for Security Information Technologies (CSIT) at Queen’s University Belfast

Working in the startup space, you hear a lot about product-market fit: where will you find the exact group of people who will really “get” your product?

It is natural – and right – to want to focus only on the end-point of this journey, talking with potential customers to get feedback. But it is this feedback that then sent me off down a research path.

My field – authentication – has two major legislative changes on the horizon: the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2), neither of which I knew much about before HutZero. Although the details of these regulations may not be entirely relevant to your chosen field, it is safe to say that it will have its own legislative framework and you will need to have an understanding of this.

Then we come to everyone’s favourite task – market research. Everyone comes up with their idea in a different way, usually after having witnessed a niche market close-up and spotting an untapped opportunity in the array of service offerings.

Me? Let’s just say mine was more “blue sky” than that. Either way, your audience will almost certainly know the market, so you need to as well. There is nothing more embarrassing than attempting to respond to “oh, so it’s like XY” when you have never even heard of XY – trust me!

At this early stage, credibility in face-to-face meetings is one of the best tools at your disposal. Yes, your are still going to be unfamiliar with various swathes of the industry, but amid the bustle of everyday jobs, perhaps, in one small area, you have thought through a few more of those logical leaps than most other people. This alone gives you a voice – and that voice is your start.


Donal Carville is the founder of Circadian Capital and a member of the HutZero programme. .................................................................. ........................................................................................

This was last published in March 2017

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