How do you decide which one industry your company is in?

Valerie Lanard Senior Software Engineering Manager at Salesforce

March 21st, 2015

I find I am constantly being asked electronically to select which one industry my company falls into, on forms, surveys, business transactions. This drives me crazy, because my company truly spans (at least) 2 primary industries, and I identify strongly with both. I assume this is true for many of us. So how do you decide when you are asked this question and have to pick one answer?

If your product/service serves a purpose to the end customer, be it in healthcare or education or finance, whatever, but the means with which you serve this purpose is through a technological solution that you build and spend all your time working on (hardware or software or internet), how do you describe yourself with one industry? As a technology company or a healthcare/education/finance/whatever company?

Note that this is not about positioning in ads or pitches or anything consumer-facing, it's about identity, and the thought processes behind it. Obviously at the end of a day, what you put on a form may make very little material difference, but constantly being asked this question in this way makes me wonder how other founders resolve it.

David Crooke Serial entrepreneur and CTO

March 21st, 2015

For an internet startup, I pick "Internet / Software / Telco" or closest. I find the same issue with job titles, no I am not the VP Eng nor a developer. I would say the industry your product is in, e.g. Kimberly Clark sells paper towels to St. Jospeh's hospital. KC is in the paper products business, not healthcare. It serves the healthcare vertical. If you have different products that are in truly different industries, e.g. Level-3 owned internet data centers and coal mines*, then pick which is meaningful in context. Cheers Dave * I assume someone read Cryptonomicon

Lane Campbell I baked a unicorn cake once.

March 21st, 2015

I'd look at the revenue being brought in and see which industry is more beneficial to my business to be identified within.

Edwin Miller 4x CEO | Founder/CEO at 9Lenses | Board Member | Author | Angel Investor

March 21st, 2015

Better over a call or skype...  Happy to discuss if you'd like.  I am right there with you in my current endeavor.  I did not place you into Survey or business forms when I glanced at your web site - and that is what investors, buyers, etc... do - they glance.  That stated, cool biz...