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Startup Playbook: success through failure

5 Secrets to Mastering Market Size for Startups


The acronyms TAM, SAM, and SOM might sound like a secret code from a spy movie, but in reality, they stand for Total Addressable Market, Service Available Market, and Service Obtainable Market. Understanding these metrics can be a game-changer for entrepreneurs looking to define their market share, potential growth, and crafting investor-ready presentations. This article provides a witty, down-to-earth guide on how to nail these figures and why they matter, with a side of zero-code tools and the perks of AI in startups.

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The Thorny Path to Market Size Enlightenment

Startups, here’s the deal: you’ve got a smashing idea, but to make it big, you’ll need to dance with the big letters – TAM, SAM, and SOM

Strutting your way into the startup scene with a killer app idea? That's the spirit! But before you start daydreaming about your poolside interview with TechCrunch, let's get real for a sec. Every successful entrepreneur needs a grip on their TAM, SAM, and SOM. Why? Because nothing bursts your bubble faster than realizing your "next Facebook" is actually targeting a market the size of a backyard pool party in Antarctica. Got your attention? Splendid, let's dive in.

Decoding the Alphabet Soup of Market Metrics

Unmasking TAM: It’s Big, Bold, and Beautiful — Or Is It?

So far so good. Heart racing with excitement, you approach the elusive concept of total addressable market (TAM). Imagine every single soul who could potentially crave your product—if you could reach them all, that's your TAM. Sounds huge, doesn't it? But before you drift into sugarplum visions of world domination, remember that TAM is just a starting point. It's the "if we lived in a perfect world" scenario.

Let's say you're flogging a revolutionary new pet rock (stay with me). If you whisper sweet nothings into the ears of all 7.8 billion people on planet Earth and somehow, magically, every single one wants to buy your conversational boulder, that, my friend, is your TAM. But hold your horses—it's not time to pop the champagne just yet.

Shrinking Down to SAM: A Reality Check

Alright, what's next? Your SAM or service addressable market brings things a bit closer to reality. This is where you focus on the folks you can actually reach with your stellar marketing skills and dashing distribution. It's like a disco—sure, millions love to shake a leg, but how many can you realistically cram onto your glitzy dance floor? So, in the realm of talkative stones, your SAM is the subset of pet enthusiasts who (1) have a fine appreciation for minerals and (2) are within the reach of your dapper rock-promoting bootstrapped campaign. You might want to take a quick gulp of wine to prepare for the next part.

SOM - No, Not a Misspelling of ‘SOME’

Next, we have SOM, the beautiful service obtainable market or, let's be frank, the slice of the pie you actually stand a chance of gobbling up. Your SOM is the realistic target for the near future. Take our pet rock: after you account for competitors (those copycat pebble pushers), your current resources, and the fact that not everyone's convinced that rocks can talk (their loss, obviously), you're left with a practical segment of the market you can actually capture. It's all nice and dandy to ogle at SAM, but SOM is where you set up camp.

The Formula Behind TAM-tastic Numbers

Baffled on how to calculate your TAM? It’s no harder than choosing between Merlot and Pinot Noir. You’ve got two paths: top-down or bottom-up. Top-down is like spying on the competition from a drone—grab industry reports, look at what the big boys are doing, and guesstimate where you fit in. Bottom-up is like a treasure hunt grounded in reality—start small, look at your sales, consider prices, peek at those few customers you've got, and build your TAM brick by brick. Mix and match these approaches for a more robust number. Just remember, a TAM built on solid facts is worth its weight in gold, or in this case, pet rocks.

SAM's Secret Recipe: Cooking Up Market Potential

When crafting your SAM, go for a hearty stew, not a watery broth. Zero in on your reachable customers and the channels to get to them. Let's make a parallel universe where pet rocks are as common as smartphones. In this world, how many pet rock stores, boutiques, and online platforms can you realistically stock? How many rock-crazed consumers are reachable through your Instagram memes and TikTok dances? Stir it all together, and what do you get? Your SAM—rich, meaty, and satisfying. Just don't spill it.

Eating Your SOM: Cut Yourself a Fair Slice

Getting a grip on your SOM? Now, we're talking. This is your call to arms, your beachhead, your Spartan stand against the hordes of market competition. Calculate SOM by identifying your unique value proposition, examining what your closest rivals are up to, and, of course, understanding your target audience with an almost creepy level of detail. Now, if your Afghan hound Fluffy is your only pet rock fan, SOM is looking grim. But if there's a rock revolution brewing and you can conquer a niche, then congrats—you've got yourself a juicy SOM to sink your teeth into.

SOM SAM TAM, It's Not Just a Fancy Chant

Grasp this: TAM tells you if it's worth getting out of bed, SAM if it's worth going to work, and SOM whether you're likely to get paid. Mess this up, and you're heading for a faceplant on the startup runway. Now, pour another cup of java and imagine the scene—you're pitching to investors. You declare your TAM is "everyone with teeth" because you've invented a new toothbrush. Eyebrows rise. You narrow down to SAM, those within range of your awesome toothbrush commercials. Nods all around. Finally, you hit them with your SOM, the real deal—the people who will chuck their old brushes for your shiny new one within the year. They're hooked, you're credible, and it's wine o'clock.

Connect the Dots and Paint the Big Picture

Calculating TAM is like Tinder for markets—you're looking for maximum appeal, but deep down you know it's a numbers game. With SAM, you're dating, getting to know the scene, seeing who's out there within arm's reach. And SOM? You're in a relationship—monogamous, focused, and ready to invest time and resources. Think about these relationships. If you play the field too wide, you'll end up with nothing. Target well, and you might just find "the one."
Example Time: Dissecting a Real-World TAM, SAM, and SOM

Let's get practical. Suppose you've whipped up a saucy new vegan pizza that'll put Italy to shame. Your TAM is the global market for pizza lovers (a la bella figura!). Now, whittle that down to SAM—the vegans and the "I'll try anything once" crowd in reachable territories. Finally, bite into SOM—the number of these plant-based pie palates you can win over in the next year. The numbers should flow smoother than melted mozzarella.

How Zero Code Tools Can Slice Your TAM, SAM, SOM like a Ninja

Before we get into the specifics, let me dangle a zero-code carrot in front of you. Tools like Make, Bubble, Adalo, Tilda, and Tally can trim your market-sizing task down like a hot machete through butter. By leveraging their drag-and-drop interfaces, you can swiftly create landing pages, MVPs, surveys, and even a full-blown beta version of your product. This can save you tons of time and cash while helping you validate your SOM with real live human beings (or pets, if that's your jam). I drank a mug of coffee for every hour I saved, and let me tell you, that was quite the caffeine hit.
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On the Trail of Tam, Sam, & Som: The Startup’s Compass

Why Should You Even Care About TAS, SAM, and SOM?

As an aspiring entrepreneur, you should give two hoots about TAM, SAM, and SOM because it's essential homework. Like knowing the secret handshake at a secret society soiree, it gets you in the door. Investors drool over these acronyms like it's their first love. Ignore this trio, and you might as well send your business plan via carrier pigeon.

Five Tips for a Spellbinding TAM Slide

Crafting a TAM slide that doesn't induce snores is an art. First tip: Use visuals—graphs, diagrams, the whole color palette. Paint your TAM like Picasso. Second: Use credible sources—Gartner, Statista, or your Aunt Edna's extensive market wisdom (if she's qualified). Third: Get specific—vague numbers are as useful as a chocolate teapot. Fourth: Show you've done your homework—comparisons, trends, growth percentages. And fifth: Be realistic—if you claim your dating app will outmatch Tinder in a year, you better have alien technology to back it up.

SAM Slide Tips for Those in the Know

Your SAM slide is your catwalk moment. You've got to strut like it's Milan Fashion Week. Tip one: Get granular—detail how you'll reach these markets, whether it's through influencers or hyper-targeted ads. Tip two: Localize—show that you know the cultural nuances of your marked territories. Three: Address the pain—how does your offering soothe the market's aches? Four: Show the path—how will your SAM grow? And five: Don't just tell—show proof, beta test results, early adopters' testimonials.

Your SOM Slide: Making It Personal

We're onto SOM, and here's where you bring out the big guns. Hit them with personalization. Som isn't just a market segment; it's potential customers, each with a name, a face, a pet peeve about their current pet rock. One: Use case studies or customer profiles. Two: Dive into the nitty-gritty—how many units? How many conversions? Three: Align with your business strategy. Four: Highlight barriers and how you plan on doing some classy somersaults over them. And five: Make it believable—a dash of humility goes a long way.

The Power of Why: Building a Bulletproof Case for TAM, SAM, and SOM

There's a reason "Why?" was your favorite question as a toddler. It's damn powerful. Answering 'why' gives you a first-class ticket to credibility town. Why is your TAM a billion-dollar baby? Why is your SAM ready for the taking? Why will your SOM pledge allegiance to your cause? Answer these, and you're not just throwing numbers around; you're building trust.

Competitive Landscape and Its Role in Shaping Your SOM

To claim your shining SOM, understand who's playing king of the hill. Conduct a thorough competitor analysis. Identify gaps that you can sneak through; maybe it's customer service, eco-friendliness, or a feature they're woefully missing. Measure your SOM with the ruler of competitive advantage. The juice is knowing where you stand amongst the giants.

Exploring Resources for Determining Market Size: Dig Deep

The Internet is like an all-you-can-eat buffet when it comes to resources for finding TAM data. There's IBISWorld for broad strokes, Google’s Market Finder for geo-targeting, Global Market Model for the heavy-hitters, and Statista for a data snack. SAM and SOM are pickier eaters, requiring you to don your Sherlock Holmes hat and observe consumer behavior, tap into social media analytics, and cozy up to industry-specific reports.
AI in Startups: Your Digital Psychic

In the high-stakes game of TAM, SAM, and SOM sizing, AI is like having a crystal ball. Tools like Annie, Aiden, Boris, and Little Sister (courtesy of Fe/male Switch, wink!) can harness mountains of data and spit out insights that a well-trained monkey with an abacus couldn't hope to match. Embracing AI in your startup is like adding nitro boosters to a horse-drawn carriage—it's unconventional, but boy, does it gallop.

Zero-Code Tools: Because Not Everyone’s a Coding Wizard

No need to bang your head against a wall if you can’t tell Java from JavaScript. Zero-code tools are your savior. They're like Lego for grown-ups, enabling you to construct models, collect data, and test markets without writing a single line of code. Who knew you could validate your SOM with something as simple as Tally's survey tool or test out your product without hiring a development team, thanks to Bubble’s platform?

Incorporating Market Size into Your Overall Business Strategy

Calculating Ts may seem an academic exercise, but it's deeply practical. It's the linchpin of your business strategy, funding requirements, and sales targets. It'll dictate if you're a quaint, family-owned ice cream parlor or a multinational dessert empire in the making. Fit your TAM, SAM, and SOM into this puzzle, and you won't just have investors listening; you'll have them leaning in.
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Piecing Together Your Market Share with Precision

Real-World Insights Into Calculating Market Size

Roll up your sleeves, because we're diving into the gritty reality of determining your market size. Violetta here once thought a market was just a place to buy overpriced avocados, but boy, did bootstrapping Fe/male Switch teach her otherwise! It's about scrutiny—fine-combing reports, piecing together user data and snacking on industry benchmarks to trim the fat off TAM fantasies and carve out a pragmatic SOM.

How to Ensure Your TAM Isn’t a TAM-tasy

Every founder has TAM-tasies—illusions of grandeur where your product reigns supreme. But, let's face it, you're not going to sell a bikini to an Eskimo (unless it’s heated, hmmm...). Be vigilant: use robust data sources, study population demographics, and understand consumer habits. That’s how you keep your TAM grounded in this galaxy.

Making Your SAM Work for You: A Cost-Effective Approach

When eyeing your SAM, think like a minimalist—elegance in efficiency. Lean on your social media savviness, content marketing charm, and word-of-mouth networks to reach your audience without blowing your budget on Super Bowl ads (unless they're dirt cheap, then go for it!). The Fe/male Switch way is about maximizing impact while keeping an eye on the expenses.

Finessing Your SOM Like a Startup Virtuoso

Your SOM is not just a segment; it's your stage. And you're the showstopper. Evaluate your customer acquisition cost, test different channels, measure conversion rates, and dance with the data. It's precision wrapped in panache. And it could make your startup the headliner in the industry's next big festival.

From Data to Decisions: Your Market Size as a Roadmap

Envision your market size metrics not as static numbers, but as a dynamic roadmap, flexing with every pivot and tweak. Your TAM shifts with trends, your SAM adapts to new channels, and your SOM evolves as you find your groove. It’s an ensemble of estimates, all playing in harmony to guide your next strategic riff.
Validation Stations: Prepping Your SOM for the Spotlight

When shining up your SOM, remember, validation is queen. Set a notation stand at every exit ramp, pump out prototypes, and let your customers conduct with feedback. SOM isn’t plucked from thin air—it's refined like a boutique wine, getting better with every taste test.

How a Little Sister Can Help You Nail the Right Market Size

Drawing blanks on startup ideas? Enter Little Sister—an AI-powered ideation tool that throws sparks into your creative engine. Using tools like this to brainstorm, validate, and refine your offering can sculpt your SOM into a piece as alluring as Michelangelo's David. And who doesn't wanna strut their startup stuff alongside Renaissance-level artistry?

Playing with VB and AI Programs: Surprising SOM Results

You don't need a magic wand, just a solid sidekick in AI to seduce your SOM. Fe/male Switch arm-wrestled code and wrangled algorithms to bring you tools that merge machine learning with a founder's instinct. The result? Startups that navigate the market like they've got the Marauder's Map.

Getting Down to Numbers: A Startup-Focused Data Crunch

Want to munch on numbers that are more digestible than last night's pizza? Roll with a founder-focused approach where crunching TAM and SAM figures feels like binge-watching Silicon Valley—it's so good you want to pause life and take notes. And, pro-tip: don’t shy away from simple but effective calculators and analytics tools. They might just uncover hidden insights in that mountainous data meal you're about to devour.

Fine-Tuning Your Financial Forecast with SAM and SOM

It's time to sync your saxophone—aka financial projections—with the melody of your market size. Every dollar in your forecast should serenade your service available and obtainable markets. Get this concerto right, and you'll have investors swaying to your tune, wallets out, ready for an encore.
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In the endearing chaos of startup land, getting your TAM, SAM, SOM right is the difference between being a one-hit-wonder and a rock legend. It's about building a foundation so solid you can stage dive into the crowd, knowing they'll catch you. These aren't just measures of market size; they're the chapters of your epic entrepreneurial tale, the battles you'll boast about to your grandkids. "Back in my day, we calculated TAM with nothing but raw data and pure guts," you'll say, a twinkle in your seasoned founder's eye.

Remember, these metrics are living, breathing entities that morph with every pivot and market shift. Your TAM is elegant in its grandeur, your SAM is clever in its precision, and your SOM is nifty in its realism. They might just be acronyms, but they're the acronyms that will see your startup through from its first shaky steps to its billionth jubilant customer.

Use the numbers wisely, sprinkle them with founder's intuition, and let them be your beacon through foggy investor meetings and bleak budget nights. Crank up your zero-code tools, cozy up to AI, and let the sparks of ingenuity fly. The stage is yours, the spotlight's hot, the crowd is chanting your startup's name. All because you unscrambled TAM, SAM, and SOM—a symphony in the key of success.
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Example of a marketing plan for the women-first startup game:



1. **WORKING WOMEN:** Women with demanding careers seeking a respite from work-related stress.

2. **STAY-AT-HOME MOMS:** Mothers who desire a fun and engaging activity during their children's downtime.

3. **GAMERS WHO CRAVE COMMUNITY:** Female gamers looking for a social and inclusive gaming experience.



1. **Escape Reality:** De-stress and unwind after a long day with a captivating gaming experience.

2. **Connect with Others:** Join a supportive community of women who share your passion for gaming.

3. **Sharpen Your Mind:** Engage in challenging and stimulating gameplay that keeps your brain sharp.


- **NAME:** Sarah

- **AGE:** 35

- **OCCUPATION:** Marketing Manager


- Managing marketing campaigns

- Analyzing data

- Creating presentations



- Travel

- Cooking

- Hiking

- **LOCATION:** San Francisco


- Spotify

- Netflix

- Amazon Prime

- **STRESS LEVEL:** High

- **BIGGEST FEAR:** Burnout


- Work-life balance

- Stress management

- Feeling isolated


- Feeling overwhelmed and exhausted (ANGRY 😢)

- Not having enough time for herself (FRUSTRATED 😤 )

- Feeling disconnected from others (LONELY 😞)


- Reduce stress and anxiety

- Find a fun and engaging hobby

- Connect with like-minded women


- Feeling more relaxed and balanced

- Enjoying her free time more

- Building a supportive network


- Exercise

- Meditation

- Spending time with friends


- **Positive:**

- Finds them helpful but limited in their effectiveness.

- Enjoys the community aspect of some apps.

- **Negative:**

- Many products are not specifically designed for women.

- Can be expensive and time-consuming.


- Feeling ineffective at managing stress

- Desire for a more engaging and personalized experience


- Whether the game will be engaging enough

- If the community will be supportive

- If the cost will be worth the benefits



- **Tone of Voice:** Empowering, supportive, and relatable

- **Features to Showcase:** Community, stress relief, mental agility

- **Headlines to Use:**

- "Escape the Stress, Unwind with a Game Designed for Women"

- "Join a Community of Women Who Love to Game"

- "Sharpen Your Mind While Having Fun"


- **Feature 1:** Live chats and forums for community engagement (VALUE PROPOSITION: Connect with Others)

- **Feature 2:** Personalized game recommendations based on mood and stress levels (VALUE PROPOSITION: Escape Reality)

- **Feature 3:** Cognitive challenges and puzzles to enhance mental acuity (VALUE PROPOSITION: Sharpen Your Mind)


- **Option 1:** Free trial with limited features

- **Option 2:** Monthly subscription for full access ($9.99/month)

- **Option 3:** Annual subscription for discounted access ($99/year)



- **Idea 1:** Partner with women-focused organizations and events (EASY)

- Host gaming tournaments or workshops at these events.

- Offer discounts to members.

- **Idea 2:** Create targeted social media campaigns on platforms like Instagram and TikTok (MEDIUM)

- Use relevant hashtags and imagery.

- Run contests and giveaways.

- **Idea 3:** Develop influencer partnerships with female gamers (HARD)

- Provide them with early access to the game.

- Offer compensation or incentives for promoting the game to their followers.


- **Idea 1:** Offer a free demo to showcase the game's features (EASY)

- Provide a step-by-step guide on how to install and play the game.

- Highlight the unique benefits that differentiate your game from competitors.

- **Idea 2:** Use social proof to build credibility (MEDIUM)

- Display testimonials and reviews from satisfied users .

- Feature success stories of women who have benefited from using the game.

- **Idea 3:** Create a sense of urgency (HARD)

- Offer limited-time promotions or discounts.

- Use countdown timers on landing pages to create a sense of scarcity.


- Reach out to Mean CEO for personalized help with your marketing strategy.

- Book a meeting via Market/place or send a message via chat.

- Ask Elona, our in-house AI, any questions you may have.

- Check out our educational modules in Skill Lab for comprehensive guidance on starting and marketing your startup.
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