Create an online tool for an offline market?

Hi all, I’m new here… I’ve been lurking for a while, but thought I’d throw my hat in the ring.

I’ve been involved in the hot rod and custom motorcycle world for about 15 years, and am fairly well connected. Because I love these people, and this is a major area of interest for me, I’d love to build a tool for my peers, however despite following the 30x500-style sales safari, along with cold calling hot rod-related businesses, and event planners, I have yet to identify a strong enough pain point to focus on.

Have any of you had similar experiences? I’m wondering if it’s simply not worth pursuing, and I should switch to a different market, or if I should keep trying to identify pain? What questions would you ask that have been helpful? Any thoughts or hints on new approaches I could try?

Thanks in advance!


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How is planning an event for custom vehicles different to planning any other type of event? Not much, I suspect.

How is running a hot rod/custom shop different to running any other type of vehicle repair business? Perhaps custom shops are interested in helping people to visualize what their creations are going to look like? But, given that every custom car/bike is unique, that could be a tough thing to do well.

The 1st question is: Is this a hobbyist market, or a business market?

2nd: Is there a big enough market?

3rd: Do these people regulatory pay for new stuff that makes them more efficient? Or is everything driven by fashion?

@Andy I think you’re right, that the majority of a car show event would be similar to planning any other event like a conference or marathon; there’s a pre-registration, and day-of registration component, along with participant ID, potentially judging/finisher number, etc. I’m not sure that’s a market I want to go after, since some promoters just use Eventbrite with success today.

As for running a rod shop, there is a much higher level of interaction with the client than there is in a traditional repair shop. I’d be happy finding a pain point in pretty much any area of the automotive/motorcycle industry, so I’ve tried to keep my mind open. Any suggestions on questions to ask? What questions, or approach do you take when researching online, or talking to your target market, do you take?

@shantnu thanks for the questions! I would not be very interested in targeting consumers; I’d much prefer to build a SaaS offering; that being said, I haven’t completely ruled it out… just not my preference (I have existing experience in this area, and hot rodders are cheapskates! :slight_smile: ) As for the market size… if I go after paint and collision shops, then there’s a huge market. I’m actually friends with an exec at one of the nations larget collision chains, so there’s a potential in there. If I go only after hot rod / bike shops then it shrinks, but if you checkout the SEMA tradeshow, you’ll see there’s still a HUGE market (also evidenced by the past 15+ years of car shows, and the Velocity TV channel which is dedicated to auto pursuits). I don’t know that consumers would necessarily pay for a monthly tool/subscription, but if I find a sufficient pain (and that’s what this question is all about) then it might be workable.

Thanks for the questions guys, again, I am not asking for a solution, but rather what you’ve used to successfully dredge for pain points to talk with your target market about, or build a solution from. Thanks!


There are hundreds of event registration companies, including some really big ones like eventbrite. I would avoid that market like the plague.

I’ve written software that addressed pain points I personally had. Sometimes that has worked well and sometimes not. Validating that there is a market for a product without actually writing the product is hard.

I would start by talking to him/her.