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Harbinger Customers And Their Effect On Startups

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Seven years ago, scientists at MIT and Northwestern did a study of six years worth of transactional data of 130 thousand customers in large retail chains. They made an interesting discovery – about 25% of customers consistently buy products that end up failing within 3 years.

Interestingly, these customers also tend to purchase houses in ZIP codes that appreciate less in value, support losing politicians, and purchase less popular clothing items.

This counter-intuitive discovery should make you worried if you are an early-stage startup founder because the most common advice you get is to listen to customer feedback and even to build an ongoing relationship with your first adopters. (It’s worth mentioning that the harbinger customers in the MIT study were more likely to be early adopters.)

What if you are listening to the feedback of a harbinger customer? Surely, it would be better to walk in the opposite direction of the one suggested by such a customer. And what if your startup tends to attract this kind of customer more often than not?

Before remedying these worries, it’s worth mentioning the obvious – the fact that you need to carefully consider customer feedback doesn’t mean that you need to listen to every customer. This would be more than counterproductive – each user is pulling the design of a product towards their unique wants and needs. It is your job to see the common thread rather than to religiously do everything each one of your customers suggests.

That said, let’s delve into the harbinger customer phenomenon a bit deeper. There could be a few reasons a group of people could be consistently buying failing products in mass-market retail chains over an extended period.

The first one is that they could be price sensitive. If they are purchasing only things that are on a heavy discount, they are more than likely to consistently stumble on clearances of products that have been underperforming.

A second possible reason is that these people have wants and needs that don’t overlap well enough with the needs of the general public. Consequently, this leads them to purchase new, innovative products more often than the average consumer. As we know, innovation is risky, so by definition, a first-adopter will try things that are doomed to fail. Moreover, in a mass retail environment where successful products are only the ones that reach very high sales volumes, products that satisfy only small market niches are unlikely to do well.

Yet, for a tech startup, finding a small unsatisfied market niche is a blessing rather than a curse. This is where innovative offerings are most sorely needed, and while a mass retail business model cannot sustainably satisfy such niches, most online business models are ideally suited to that.

Moreover, due to this harbinger effect, such niches are where you would find the least competition from corporate giants.

Consequently, you shouldn’t think of harbinger customers as people who bear a curse that ruins any product they touch. While harbingers are the customers that the fast-moving consumer goods try to avoid, for a tech startup the person who needs new and different products from the ones currently on the market is exactly the person you are looking for when choosing your startup market.

Startups

Identity in the metaverse: Creating a global identity system

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With the advent of the metaverse, the need for a global identity system has become apparent. There are many different ways to create an identity in the metaverse, but no single system is universally accepted. 

The challenge is usually two-fold: first, how to create an identity that is accepted by all the different platforms and services in the metaverse, and second, how to keep track of all the different identities a person may have.

There are many proposed solutions to these challenges, but no clear consensus has emerged. Some believe that a single, global identity system is the only way to ensure interoperability between different platforms and services. Others believe that multiple identities are necessary to allow people to maintain their privacy and security.

The debate is ongoing, but it is clear that the need for a global identity system is becoming more urgent as the metaverse continues to grow.

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In this article, we will explore the various options for creating a global identity system in the metaverse. We will discuss the pros and cons of each option, and try to identify the best solution for the future.

Option 1: A single global identity

The simplest solution to the problem of identity in the metaverse is to create a single, global identity system. This would be a centralized system that would be responsible for managing all identities in the metaverse. 

The advantages of this approach are obvious: It would be much easier to keep track of identities, and there would be no need to worry about different platforms and services accepting different identities. In addition, a centralized identity system would allow for better security and privacy controls, as well as the ability to track identity theft and fraud.

However, this approach also has several disadvantages. First, it would be very difficult to create a global identity system that is accepted by everyone. Also, a centralized system would be vulnerable to attack and could be used to track people’s movements and activities. Third, it would be difficult to protect the privacy of users in a centralized system.

Option 2: Multiple identities

Another solution to the problem of identity in the metaverse is to allow each person to have multiple identities. This would mean that each person could have one or more identities that they use for different purposes. 

One of the main advantages of this approach is that it would allow people to maintain their privacy and security. Each person could choose which identity to use for each situation, and they would not have to worry about their entire identity being exposed. In addition, this approach would be more resilient to attack, as it would be much harder to take down multiple identities than a single one.

The limitations of such an approach would be that it could be difficult to keep track of all the different identities, and there would be no guarantee that different platforms and services would accept all of them. In addition, multiple identities could lead to confusion and could make it more difficult for people to build trust with others.

Option 3: A decentralized identity system

A third solution to the problem of identity in the metaverse is to create a decentralized identity system. This would be an identity system that is not controlled by any one centralized authority but rather is distributed among many different nodes. 

This might seem like the ideal approach, since decentralization is a common theme in the metaverse. However, there are still some challenges that need to be overcome. For instance, it would need to be ensured that all the different nodes in the system are properly synchronized and that the system as a whole is secure. In addition, it might be difficult to get people to adopt such a system if they are used to the more traditional centralized approach.

One solution would be to get the nodes in the system to be run by different organizations. This would help to decentralize the system and make it more secure. Another advantage of this approach is that it would allow different organizations to offer their own identity services, which could be more tailored to their needs.

Another would be to incorporate an edge computing solution into the system. This would allow for more decentralized processing of data and could help to improve performance. It would also make the system more resilient to attack since there would be no centralized point of failure.

The best solution for the future of identity in the metaverse is likely to be a combination of these approaches. A centralized system might be necessary to provide a basic level of identity services, but it should be supplemented by a decentralized system that is more secure and resilient. Ultimately, the goal should be to create an identity system that is both easy to use and secure.

The ideal identity standards of the metaverse

Now that we have explored the various options for identity in the metaverse, we can start to identify the ideal standards that should be met by any future global identity system. 

It is no easy task to create a global identity system that meets all of the criteria, but it is important to strive for an ideal solution. After all, the metaverse is still in its early stages, and the decisions made now will have a lasting impact on its future. 

Current iterations of the metaverse have used very traditional approaches to identity, but it is time to start thinking outside the box. The ideal solution will be one that is secure, private, decentralized, and easy to use. It will be a solution that allows people to maintain their privacy while still being able to interact with others in the metaverse. 

Most importantly, it will be a solution that can be accepted and used by everyone. Only then can we hope to create a truly global identity system for the metaverse.

The bottom line on identity in the metaverse

The question of identity in the metaverse is a complex one, but it is an important issue that needs to be addressed. 

The challenges associated with creating an implementation that is secure, private and decentralized are significant, but they are not insurmountable. For one, it will be important to get buy-in from organizations that have a vested interest in the metaverse. These organizations can help to promote and support the adoption of identity standards. 

It is also important to keep in mind that the metaverse is still evolving, and the solution that is ideal today might not be ideal tomorrow. As such, it will be critical to have a flexible identity system that can adapt as the needs of the metaverse change. 

Ultimately, the goal should be to create an identity system that is both easy to use and secure. Only then can we hope to create a truly global identity system for the metaverse.

Daniel Saito is CEO and cofounder of StrongNode

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How to Eliminate Scheduling Inefficiencies in Your Business

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What do salons, consultancies, and home service providers all have in common? This question may seem like the prime setup for a joke, but there’s no punchline to look forward…

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Why You Should Start a Business Only While You Have a Job

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Many people that I meet tell me that they dream of starting their own . I always ask them, “Then why don’t you?” They typically respond by saying that they have so many financial and personal responsibilities, that they can’t just quit their job to start a company, etc. Then I tell them my story …



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Related: How to Use Your Current Job to Start Your Next Business

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