“Eh, never heard of it. Must not be a big opportunity.” I remember the days when you could say this about a consumer website and usually be correct. Oh because it was only 15 years ago. Sure you had lots of niche businesses throwing of good amounts of cash, but if you were an investor in Silicon Valley looking for a multibillion dollar outcome, there was an informal checklist you went through:
a) Have I heard of it? [with "you" usually = 30-50 year old white male]
b) Have my associates, wife or kids heard of it? [solving the 20s, kids and women's market]
c) What are the Comscore numbers? [solving the US traffic #s. kinda]
No, No, Small = pass. Or if you found out it was big but only outside the US? “Well, they’ll have trouble making money.”
Fast forward a bit and gloriously “never heard of it” isn’t anywhere close to being a negative signal. Why? Because early adopters are no longer monolithic and many demographics now have enough population online to support services which appeal primarily to them. A teenager recently gave me the blunt description of how Snapchat conquered his high school: “It spread from the Slutty Girls to the Soccer Girls to the Math Girls to the Boys.”
And international is no longer a black hole of monetization but leading the way on many new models, such as in-app purchase.
And social + mobile platforms have created such a growth acceleration opportunity that smoldering businesses can turn into full blown bonfires faster than ever.
In 2000 “never heard of it” meant pass. In 2014, if there’s something I’ve never heard of, my heart quickens as I go to download the app, visit the URL, buy the hardware, etc