Information that can help you better understand any industry of your choice is publicly available through companies that are publicly-listed on stock exchanges. The value of the information is that it gives you insights about the needs of the market, what customers are using or expecting, the ups and downs of the market, and what are the opportunities for change.
For example, if you have an idea to create a new WiFi-enabled sensor that can be used in smart cities, you can find openly available information online about the big company called Cisco, a networking giant, to see what they are doing in WiFi. As a public company, Cisco produces annual reports; financial analysts write about it in market reports; and various SEC filings exist to share critical information equitably with its investors and would-be investors.
Furthermore, when you understand the market positions of the major companies in the market you are thinking of targeting with your potential startup, you are better able to think about where you could imagine your potential startup being positioned in the market.
Future customers need to be able to understand your focus as a company, and this is called positioning. You will have to position your future startup against other companies and explain why your idea for a company is different, unique, complementary, viable and sound. To create this kind of credibility, you need to understand the market itself.
To summarize, a great starting point is the publicly available information about public companies; it’s not the end-all be-all, but it’s one way, among many ways, to acquire free information, not just about other companies, but about the market or industry you are thinking about entering with your future startup company. You can learn about market trends, evolving customer requirements and spending dynamics in a segment.
Let the big, public companies do some of the heavy lifting for you. Get to know companies on the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ that are relevant for the market segment you want to better understand, adding fuel to your idea. You can use this online tool to browse for public companies.
Source: Visual Capitalist (https://www.visualcapitalist.com/the-biggest-public-company-in-every-u-s-state/)