About “Where to Play”

In today’s fast-paced business world, entrepreneurs, innovators, and business leaders are trained to act quickly in order to make their ideas a success. With such a focus on running fast, entrepreneurs often fail to make sure that they are actually running in the right direction. They either jump straight into the first market opportunity that looks good, or attempt to pursue too many opportunities at once.

Where to Play, a new book by Dr. Sharon Tal and Prof. Marc Gruber, helps business leaders to quickly identify, evaluate, and focus on the opportunities that offer the most value for their innovations, while keeping them agile enough to respond to unforeseen changes.

Where to Play helps readers set a promising strategy for their business through a simple Market Opportunity Navigator, which was developed based on 15 years of rigorous research and hundreds of real-life cases. This structured and easy-to-use framework allows readers to set their strategic focus in three important steps:

  • Generate Your Market Opportunity Set
    Assess your core strengths and identify which market opportunities exist for your business
  • Depict Your Attractiveness Map
    Evaluate your market opportunities to reveal the most attractive option for focus
  • Design Your Agile Focus Strategy
    Create a strategic plan for your chosen market opportunity that keeps you open-minded and agile

Where to Play is presented in a highly visual and engaging style that breaks up a complex decision-making process into clear, easy-to-manage tasks.

Who is this book for?

This practical book is not only invaluable for entrepreneurs and startups who are searching for the best markets to focus on, but will also help the heads of established firms to free themselves of distractions and focus on the growth opportunities that will add value to their business.

In fact, anyone attempting to commercialize new innovations can benefit from this structured process, including investors, venture capitalists, and even technology transfer offices. Educators and accelerators can teach their trainees how to apply this tool, while using it to reflect on their learning and track their ongoing progress.

 What will you achieve with this book?

The book presents the Market Opportunity Navigator and takes you by the hand as you progress through its 3 steps, illustrated with numerous cases and examples.

Applying this structured business tool will help you to:

  • Identify potentially groundbreaking new market opportunities
  • Make a well-informed market choice
  • Communicate, share, and debate with team members and stakeholders by creating a common understanding and language
  • Track and update your market opportunity strategy over time to better manage the commercialization effort
  • Obtain valuable insights into other key business tools, such as the Business Model Canvas and the Lean Startup Methodology

Eventually, it will help you to reap the greatest benefits from your innovation.

How much time should you dedicate for the book?

To read through the book, you will only need a few hours, because the book is highly visual and not text-heavy. However, if you wish to apply the Market Opportunity Navigator on your own business idea, be prepared to invest a significant amount of time. Remember that this is a learning process: you will need to discover different types of customers and understand their motivation, you will need to set your strategic focus wisely, and you will need to set your assumptions for each market and to validate them in order to assess and compare your options. This learning process takes time, and rushing it may have dramatic consequences on your venture. The process could extend from a few days to a few weeks or even months, depending on your situation and your current knowledge. Take your time and don’t forget – running fast is useless if you are not running in the right direction!

Chapter Breakdown

In this book, you will find:

 1) Overview

  • Introduction: Are you running in the right direction?
  • The Market Opportunity Navigator in a nutshell

2) The Market Opportunity Navigator: 3 Steps to Discover Your Most Valuable Market Opportunities

  • Market Opportunity Set
  • Attractiveness Map
  • Agile Focus Dartboard

3) Implications & Benefits

  • Implications of the Agile Focus Strategy
  • Ongoing benefits of the Market Opportunity Navigator
  • Using the Market Opportunity Navigator with other business tools

4) Beyond Startups – The Navigator for:

  • Established firms
  • Investors
  • Technology Transfer Offices
  • Educators and Accelerators

5) Epilogue- the Navigator’s Navigator

Part 1- Overview

The first part of the book discusses why it is so critical yet so challenging to set a proper market opportunity strategy for your venture. It presents the logic behind the Market Opportunity Navigator and its three steps, and highlights some important concerns to keep in mind as you go through this learning process.

Part 2- The Market Opportunity Navigator

This major part of the book clearly guides you in applying the three steps of the Navigator, with the help of detailed explanations and numerous examples.

  • Step 1: Using Worksheet 1, you will learn how to describe your core abilities independently of any product, and how to identify different applications that can be developed with these abilities, along with potential customers that may need these applications. The desired outcome is your Market Opportunity Set.
  • Step 2: Using the dedicated Worksheet 2, you will learn how to evaluate the attractiveness of each market opportunity based on two dimensions: The Potential of the opportunity and the Challenge in capturing its value. The result of this scoring process is depicted in the Attractiveness Map.
  • Step 3: Using the dedicated Worksheet 3, you will learn how to assess potential Backup and Growth options, once the Primary Market Opportunity is chosen. By examining the value and relatedness, you are able to decide which opportunities to pursue now, which will be kept open for later, and which will be placed in storage. The resulting strategy (the “Agile Focus Strategy”) is depicted on the Agile Focus Dartboard.

Part 3- Implications and Benefits

This part digs deeply into the final outcome of this process — your Agile Focus Strategy — and how it influences different aspects of your emerging venture, in an attempt to balance focus and flexibility. It also illustrates how to work effectively with the Market Opportunity Navigator, both over time and in concert with other well-known business tools such as the Business Model Canvas and the Lean Start-up Methodology.

Part 4 – The Navigator for Established Firms, Investors, Technology Transfer Offices, and Educators and Accelerators

Even if you are not the founder of a young startup, you can find the process depicted in this book extremely relevant and valuable. This part of the book describes how different types of customers, including established firms, investors, technology transfer offices, and educators, can benefit from applying the Market Opportunity Navigator.

To summarize and illustrate this profound decision-making process, we finish the book with an example of how we used this tool to set up our very own market opportunity strategy.

About the Authors

Professor Dr. Marc Gruber is a world-leading researcher in the field of innovation, entrepreneurship and technology commercialization. Marc is Vice President for Innovation at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he also heads the Chair of Entrepreneurship & Technology Commercialization. He works as the Deputy Editor for a prominent empirical research journal in management, the Academy of Management Journal. Marc is actively engaged in teaching, consulting, and executive training programs in Europe, the US, and Asia, and regularly acts as a jury member in startup and corporate entrepreneurship competitions across Europe.  He has been ranked as the #1 researcher in entrepreneurship for 2005-2015.

Dr. Sharon Tal is the co-founder and former executive director of the Entrepreneurship Centre at the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, and a well-recognized lecturer on marketing for high-tech start-ups. She gives lectures and workshops on a regular basis, and serves as a mentor in many organizations that aim to help budding entrepreneurs. Sharon also has significant experience in marketing and in strategic consulting. Her Ph.D. research analysed the market entry decisions of hundreds of startups and their consequences on firm performance and flexibility.

Where can you get the book?

Where to Play is available on amazon.co.uk for £16.99, and will be available in bookshops around the world.