Dec 15, 2012

RailFood Evolves: Another pivot


Having a startup is easy. Succeeding is a different story. It's a terribly competitive game and there are lots of ways to fail and no absolute ways to succeed. One of the ideas I've been working on for about 5 years just took a big shift both in features and messaging.

Initially, RailFood was a Parts listing site for the rail industry. We have paying customers but many of those on the supply side deal with verticals other than rail. So we expanded and changed the name to Partsbook.

Partsbook handles spare parts inventory for most heavy industrial verticals - not just locomotives. We're now working with Mining, Oil and Gas, Marine, Helicopters, Fixed wing aircraft, and plan to add a few others as well.

Throwing the site out there has presented some challenges. Mostly: the buyers are quite content dealing with their existing suppliers and don't want to lower pricing where it might increase tangential risk. On the other hand, suppliers are finding it a waste to deal with the same buyers and not increase their sales opportunities.

I've been giving this some thought, and I think the solution is to reposition the site. Right now we are transaction based - like Amazon for heavy industries. Instead, we'd like to be more community based. So in the next few weeks we'll be experimenting with some different positioning -- trying to see if get more traction by saying we are a collaboration portal over purely a place to buy/sell parts. In fact, we've already changed the title of the main page: Organized procurement and sales for Heavy Industries.

What's been your experience with repositioning your startup? Any tips or advice?

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