Google Domain experience: Must have before starting out or just overrated?

Domain Experience: A (Startup) Must-Have or Simply Overrated?

  • By Andreas
  • 7 April, 2019

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New entrepreneur about to enter a market without previous domain experience?

Hate to break it to you but…

… you’re kind of scre*ed!

Or at least that’s what the conventional wisdom suggests.

And yes by domain experience I mean a mixture of hands-on industry experience and deep functional expertise.

So, why (allegedly) that’s the case?

Here you go…

No Domain Experience? STOP!

Reason #1: You’d be stabbing in the dark

Wonder why?

It’s simple – unless you actually live a market and experience how things work first-hand inevitably you’ll have to…

… base your decisions on blurry market hypotheses and not hard-learned market realities.

Yep, market research alone won’t cut it guys – or at least that’s the claim…

Reason #2: You’ll have no credibility

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that no customer in the right mind would buy from a company unless it comes across as trustworthy.

And the assumption here is that, especially for service-oriented ventures, by being a complete newcomer you’d have a hard time to convince people:

a) you understand where they’re coming from,

b) you know what you’re talking about, and

b) you can deliver upon your promises

Reason #3: You’ll have fewer tries

What does that suppose to mean?

Let me explain…

In an article a couple of years ago, Eric Ries said: Cash on hand is just one important variable in a startup’s life, but it’s not necessarily the most important. What matters most is the number of iterations the company has left.”

His point?

Figuring things out and landing on a plan that works doesn’t come without a deadline.

And the presupposition here is that the lack of domain experience is associated with a lot of preventable rookie mistakes.

Which naturally result in having fewer tries to crack the code.

After all, as they say, “you can’t simply Google your way to expertise”.

So, is it time to admit that newcomers are inevitably at a BIG disadvantage?

Not yet – it’s time to flip the coin and see things from the other side!

No Domain Experience? Don’t Despair!

Yep, according to many having domain experience pre-starting is just unnecessary.

How come?

It boils down to these 2 factors:

Factor #1: Being an outsider can be an advantage in disguise

You did read that correctly…

Coming with ‘a fresh pair of eyes’ helps you see things from a new angle, challenge long-held industry orthodoxies, and bring change.

As Richard Branson, a leading example of this school of thought, admitted once about the creation of Virgin Atlantics:

I knew nothing about air travel, but as I’d flown back and forth from Britain to the United States on business for Virgin Records, I’d become convinced that there had to be a better way… Again, with no knowledge of the industry but plenty of ideas… Virgin Atlantic was born and proved its critics wrong.”

Want more such success stories?

Look no further than the founders of companies of the likes of Airbnb, Uber, Facebook, and Stripe.

Which yes all came out of nowhere with literally no prior industry experience, and made things happen.

Want more convincing?

Here comes factor #2…

Factor #2: You can borrow (or buy) domain experience if needed

Yep, an alternative view is that while domain experience is required, rather than waiting until one day you’ve reached that ‘expert status’…

… you can always outsource it on-demand!


According to the advocates of this ‘model’ through co-founders, advisors, employees, investors, or even external mentors.

The moral of the story?

There is more than one way to skin the cat; or at least that’s the allegation…

My take an all this?

Domain experience: A Big + But Usually Not Prerequisite

Yes my friends, while I agree that domain experience comes with a lot of benefits, I don’t buy that’s an absolute must-have.

That being said, the 2 reasons I listed earlier why domain experience is not that needed are kind of bullshit in my opinion.

I know – shame on me.

But why?

Because the fresh pair of eyes “advantage” is grossly overrated and borrowing expertise it’s easier said than done (assuming that you can also afford it when you’re just starting out).

So, what’s the #1 way to counterbalance the lack of domain experience when entering a new market?

You guessed it – being a user entrepreneur.

Which for those of you not familiar with the term are entrepreneurs who create products or services in response to personal needs/pains.

Yep, this model it’s also known as “scratch your own itch” for a reason!

So, with that said, I think its time to put this baby to bed…with today’s key takeaways.

Today’s Key Takeaways

– Figuring things out & landing on a plan that works doesn’t come without a deadline

Domain experience is a big + but  not a prerequisite

– The #1 way to offset the lack of domain experience is by scratching your own itch


Ok guys, that’s all from me for today.

If you enjoyed today’s post, check out my kindle book, The Vertical Startup: A Practical Guide on How Today’s Bootstrapped Entrepreneurs Turn their Late Market Entry Into An Advantage By Going Vertical, that is currently available at Amazon.

I hope to see you soon.



“Time is the most valuable asset you don’t own”

– Mark Cuban

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