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Estimating your market size from non-technical sources  

Bart Doorneweert is a Dutch textile and agriculture entrepreneur who's operated in India and East Africa. Looking at situations where market data is unavailable and running experiments is expensive, he shows how it's important to learn from analogs.

Market insights required to develop successful business at scale in emerging markets are already out there. They're with shopkeepers, merchants, existing service providers, etc, currently running their businesses.

Bart shares a thoughtful analysis on two startups deploying battery charging technology.

ARED is explicitly promoting the advertisement option as a way for additional revenue generation. Assumption: this advertising creates conversion for advertisers, and enables the franchisee to directly earn extra cash.

To back the opportunity of the advertising claim we need to look elsewhere, and move to Monrovia, Liberia, where we will find Alfred Sirleaf. Alfred is a famous figure on the market, because he mans a blackboard newsstand. Alfred scans the newspapers each day for interesting stories, and writes them up on the blackboard for people who can't afford newspapers.

The interesting thing about Alfred's business for our pushcart solar phonecharger case, is that Alfred offers advertising space with his blackboard. Apparently there are advertisers that get some kind of conversion from advertising to people who can't afford a newspaper!

Back to our discussion on ARED, you can see the similarity in advertising opportunity with Alfred's newsstand.

Bart covers a lot of other important issues in his analysis: defensibility, assumptions, beachhead markets. A useful read to follow his thought process.

More from the library:
Customer development vs distribution channel development
Your idea is worthless in finding a cofounder
Gabriel Weinberg on raising VC money