If we were to consider the staff of S-Ray as a garage band, we may see some very interesting parallels to help understand current opportunities and challenges.
A garage band can be defined as “a group of amateur musicians who play for local audiences.” Key to the definition is the “local audience.”
S-Ray has chosen to follow a market driven innovation process. This means all product development is undertaken as an ongoing conversation with our intended customers and users. Our future customers tell us the product that they want to buy – our team simply needs to turn the vision of the customer into the product. Because our customers are in a well-defined industry – dentistry – there is a great deal of communication within our future customer group. While we are aware of a portion of those communications, there is substantially more communication which may have been started by S-Ray, but continues on without the prompting by the company.
Returning to the garage band illustration, management focused on a geographic definition of customers starting in 2010 – the area defined as the Interstate 5 Corridor. This “I-5 Corridor” started in Seattle, picked up Portland and San Francisco and ended in Los Angeles. Four substantial cities which can all be reached by car – our local audience.
Serving this local audience was within our grasp as a “garage band.”
However, starting in 2014, we started getting unforeseen demand from future customers outside of our local audience area. As our audience grew, we started to challenge that aspect of the definition of a garage band – our audience was becoming global.
In 2016 we received media exposure from Businessweek. While the article in the print version potentially reached only 1 million readers, the downloaded content had the potential to reach 3.2 million viewers. Because our products are enablers of digital dentistry, digital readership is very relevant to our product.
Returning to the local audience – the total of 1 million print and 3.2 million digital is an audience of 4.2 million. To help put this audience in perspective, the combined population of Seattle, Portland and San Francisco is about 2.1 million – about half the size of our current audience.
Has this exposure increased demand for our future products? Yes – we continue to add new names to our mailing list and new dentist investors to our shareholder roll.
What does this dramatic growth in our audience mean to our little garage band? It means we can no longer be a group of amateurs serving a local audience. We need to transition our team into professionals capable of serving a global audience.
The question before us is whether the current S-Ray team can make the shift from a garage band to a world-class organization or should we hand off this opportunity and responsibility to a new team who can do it?
I invite your comments and opinion on this very important question.