So I just ran my niche generator 3000, and I got this as my result:
Pyrography? I’ve never heard of that before.
Turns out its wood burning. It’s something that I know little about, and I imagine that it’s very specific and niche.
For those of you that are not familiar with wood burning, it’s the act of sketching beautiful designs in wood through a heated instrument.
Wood burning, huh. I wonder if there is an opportunity to pursue a business here.
Unlike our previous example of the cruise line industry, this business is much different.
It’s niche. So now I have to learn more about this industry, as I have 0 knowledge about this.
Here’s my first rule. If I know nothing about a topic, the first thing I do is I search for a Reddit community.
In looking at Reddit, it seems like a very artisanal focused community. The community loves to share pictures of their best work, and it seems like a very visual community.
Next I’ll search (both in google and in Reddit), the word “problem + niche area”. This is to identify what the major problems that consumers in this niche face, and if there are any major themes.
However, somewhat concerning, it looks like the trends for wood burning are flat.
My guess is that many people’s interest in Wood burning is driven by two main channels:
a) Artisans and hobbyists interested in learning and practicing a new artistic skill
b) Consumers looking to purchase wood burning products as gifts
So what to do in this situation? Is it possible to make money for something like this?
Let’s solve this in two ways.
The first method is my “Parallel” method.
The second method is my “Channels” method:
The parallel method
I think one way to think of this is to think in parallel. It will be helpful to go back and visit some other parallel artisanal art products and see if there are any successful companies built around
Some other parallel products, that are more mainstream, are the following
- Watercolour Paintings
Let’s take watercolour's paintings. A quick google of watercolour paintings are:
We already see that there are a high number of potential frameworks we can think of. Some interesting ideas are:
- High-end Wood burning Commissioning
- Subscription to designs
Based on some initial web searches, it seems like the space to purchasing wood burning has been cornered. There’s a high level of mature e-commerce happening on Etsy to high satisfaction. We also don’t see a large need for these wood burners that is not being satisfied with these platforms.
What I don’t see, and which I think can be very useful for this community, is a service like Dribble. For those of you not familiar with Dribble, it acts as a social network for designers to share their best designs and prints.
There are a few reasons I believe this can be helpful for the wood burning community:
- In looking at the Reddit community for Wood burning, a very high % of the top posts were sharing examples of works from the different communities.
- Given the high variability of the product (every piece of wood is special, heating original woods gives different textures), every piece is exceptional and can standalone as an interesting product.
The channel method
The second method is to go through all the different components for someone to take part in this activity, and up the channel of production.
For someone to start wood burning, here are the different products that they need to make happen:
- Fire pen
Let’s break this down component by component.
This is a massive market. There are billions of dollars of wood being sold yearly, but I imagine it’s not being sold in a fashion is in line with the needs of the wood burning community.
Most people buying wood are likely looking for industrial uses. This wood lacks the aesthetic that pyrography enthusiasts are looking for.
One potential opportunity here could be to sell this specific wood from a centralized location.
Not too much to cover here. In searching up the different existing fire pens, there are no major players. It looks like this product is (a) being built by independent private operations based in different parts of the West or (b) foreign companies.
I’m not a big fan of hardware, if the total addressable market is not massive. Given that, I’ll move forward from there.
Same thing to say here as Fire Pen
This was covered up earlier in the Parallel method. It seems like this is where the biggest opportunity is.
To brainstorm, here are some initial thoughts
- Free marketplace that showcases original designs
- Give creators an ability to monetize their designs by uploading a “how-to” of pictures / videos
- Allow subscriptions in the form of passes to see educational materials
As an ultimate test, let’s measure what the total addressable market for something like this could be.
Here’s how we can test:
Based on this data, I wouldn’t recommend this as a startup idea. While I think there could be a market for a wood burning specific market, it’s very limited. The primary reasons I believe this can fail are:
- The TAM for this market are distributed across many small players
- It’s almost too artisanal. This leaves a potential great opportunity to earn money as a hobbyist, but not enough to build an enterprise
- The biggest concerns the proponents of this service have are due to hardware limitations (i.e. the wood burning pen), rather than service, which makes it a harder problem to resolve