March 22, 2012
Oftentimes we don’t find the business ideas, they find us. At least that was the case for Russ Whitney, Sawtooth Ideas founder and CEO.
“I wasn’t looking for a business idea in woodworking, I just happened upon it.”
After leaving his job at Microsoft in 2010, Whitney was looking for a business idea to pursue, but was having trouble stumbling upon his stroke of genius. To occupy his time, he more seriously pursued his woodworking hobby. That was when the idea came to him: “I quickly discovered how difficult it is to find good woodworking plans and create woodworking plans for yourself.”
Whitney wasted little time in reaching out to others in the woodworking industry to help refine his idea. And thus Sawtooth Ideas, the woodworking plan marketplace, was born.
A woodworking plan marketplace? Is there even a market for that?
“Frequently when I describe Sawtooth Ideas, business people will react by expressing concern about the size of the market. I believe the small size of the market is of the greatest strengths of our business idea. To reduce risk in starting a company from scratch ,it is extremely helpful to choose a market that is small enough that it doesn’t attract larger competitors but is big enough to support your business.” Whitney adds, “Ideally, you want a market that you can serve well as a small company so you don’t have to raise a lot of money and grow too fast. I estimate that there are 17.5 million woodworkers in the U.S. alone. That market is plenty sufficient to grow a business.”
So how does one penetrate this 17.5 million person market?
“Our strategy to getting the word out about Sawtooth Ideas is threefold. Firstly, we are targeting the influencers in the market like woodworking clubs and trainers. Secondly, we are leveraging free press opportunities both inside the woodworking industry and outside. And thirdly, we are employing state-of-the-art SEO and SEM methods to draw traffic. Once we have traffic coming to our site, we will work with our providers to keep the content fresh and interesting and to build a unique community around woodworking plans.”
If you’re in the woodworking field (builder or designer), be sure to check out Sawtooth Ideas’ website. You can also chat with Whitney face-to-face at the upcoming Tech Cocktail Boise Mixer, as Sawtooth is one of the featured startups.
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