For a start-up, understanding where your product category fits on the technology adoption lifecycle (TALC) is critical for the strategic allocation of limited resources. That said, keep in mind that the TALC is a blunt tool that offers little chance for accuracy. It is therefore important for start-ups to achieve consensus within the team on an approximate placement of the category on the TALC.

Finding your place on the TALC

Using the technology adoption lifecycle (TALC) to understand where your product category fits is the first step in the strategy process for start-up technology companies. Each member of the strategy team should place the product category somewhere on the TALC. Then the team can discuss the choices and search for common ground.

Use the following guidelines to keep the team focused:

  • Analyze where a product enters the TALC when it is brought to market (that is, shipped).
  • Placement of the product category is geographically sensitive—it will depend on where it is in the world.
  • A product’s rapid acceptance and adoption in the Early Market does not mean that it is in a Tornado. It may be due to the reaction of technology enthusiasts and visionaries to the newness of the product category. Wait until pragmatists adopt the product category (in definable segments) before moving out of the Early Market.
  • A Tornado is also possible in Bowling Alley markets when the product effectively resolves problems in a particular market segment. Wait for evidence that this local response carries over into other segments.
  • When transference does not occur, the product may enter Main Street without sustaining a Tornado. The product may only be effective in niche markets—a generalized solution and infrastructure will not apply.
  • Your product may fail, even though others in the product category may succeed, as a result of (or despite) your company’s efforts. Each product and company must survive on its own. A product’s success does not guarantee the success of the product category.

Next steps in the process

The next steps in the strategy process are to:

  1. assess the sources and impact of discontinuity
  2. create a strategy statement by using the market development strategy checklist


Wiefels, P. (2002). The Chasm Companion. New York: HarperBusiness.