How to disrupt an industry that is dominated by big players

It takes a lot to disrupt any industry and it certainly isn’t a decision you will make overnight. Through my years of experience with founding start-ups, growing companies and leading company turnarounds across the globe, my tips to disrupting industries are:

  1. Focus on areas of the marketplace that aren’t catering to their audience and do the best you can. If the market is already saturated with companies that have nailed their business model and are providing customers with best-in-class solutions, it’s safe to say you probably won’t make much of a dent. Find a market that you’re firstly passionate about and that secondly has obvious gaps that you could potentially fill. Within this, you will have to take risks that are calculated but also bold. Living on the edge is most certainly not comfortable, and takes its toll, but it’s in that exact zone where some people do their best work. You will need to partner with people who share this mantra as it will increase the chance of your success.
  2. Consistently out deliver the bigger players. Although you’ll be smaller than them, you can be nimble and more aggressive. Embrace your size and use it to your advantage as you’ll have the freedom to rapidly innovate, change tack and provide unique offerings to your customers. If your target audience starts to require a new offering due to changed preferences and habits, you need to act fast and cater to their needs first. For example, at Tribe, we recognised that people in South-East Asia were craving quality beer, so, we were some of the first to push great craft beer in that market. If we didn’t do that, we probably wouldn’t be where we are today. I would also say you need to know your customers well and invest in technologies that will enable you to connect with them e.g. market research. It’s astounding how many bigger players don’t listen or even know their customers.
  3. Invest in talented and like-minded people. It might sound cliché but there is tremendous power in a group of people who want to break down walls, disrupt an industry and do great things. Team members are not resource units, they are individuals – creating an ecosystem where a small business can flourish while aligning your team members culturally is a real challenge but a great opportunity if you get it right. Being a “Challenger” is very powerful.

Anton Szpitalak, Co-Founder and CEO, Tribe Breweries

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