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Post 10: Carlos, Kate & Seb?

SUBTITLE: Defining customer segments

All great products/services solve a problem for a customer. You’re success will normally relate to how well you solve the problem, how early you were to the game etc.

As I spend time developing ideas around professional networks, I’m keeping in mind the people that I’m solving problems for.

In an email I sent yesterday I said, “…it could be like LinkedIn for the design vertical.”  In a similar way Doximity is a professional network for U.S. Physicians.

[What is a vertical? 1:32min explanation]

The problem I’m having is I can feel a common set of pain points that exist for customers who work within the ‘design/creative’ vertical, but they are very hard to define.


Insert Carlos, Kate & Seb.

Carlos and Kate are two friends I know who fit well inside the design vertical. Both are practising designers with similar clients and business models.

Seb works at The Lonely Planet (probably has the best job in the world). He’s not a designer, but I can’t help but include him in my research because I’m sure he shares some problems in common with Carlos and Kate even though he comes from a (slightly) different vertical.


If I add in my copywriting friends Willow&Blake, who also belong to a mini vertical, we get a more diverse ecosystem with potentially more common pain points.

Up until this point, I’ve been building something mainly for Vertical 1, bleeding into PP3. But my concern is that these areas alone are too small to build a business around. (Dribbble, who sit in Vertical 1, have 460,000 users, Dec 2013).


My feeling is that the real opportunity lies in creating a product that solves pain points that are shared between the mini verticals or in PP4.

Trying to define these however is difficult.

Here are some similarities that the verticals share, but I’m not at a point yet when I can translate them into shred pain points and thus develop specific solutions (or a product).

  • Work would be defined as ‘creative’
  • Don’t wear suits to work
  • Don’t work regular 9-5 hours
  • Can and do work remotely if need be
  • Their work is far more diverse than what they studied
  • Add lots of value to their customers, but hard to quantify
  • Many freelancers in the vertical
  • Limited business knowledge due to failing education systems

It’s possible that what is happening here is that the difficultly I’m encountering defining common pain points between mini verticals is because the customers actually have a hard time defining themselves in a professional context. Are you just a graphic designer, or do you also offer social media and copy writing services and film editing and development?

Thanks to online training, YouTube and services like Freelancer, people in the ‘design & creative’ vertical offer all sorts of services and often more than just one or two. Does this mean the need/want their own network to cater for this?

The other option of course is that the pain points that are shared between verticals are too murky or aren’t strong enough or clearly defined enough to build a product around and I might be better to just look at a more well defined vertical like Graphic Design.

(This is the 10th post in a series as I explore some digital product ideas for 30 days. All my work is being published here on my blog. Click here to read the other posts, scroll down.)

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