MySites, a Finnish startup providing a single location to save, manage and share content online, has decided to focus their marketing efforts selectively in two niche audiences. This is an interesting marketing strategy for a startup since it might make it possible for a startup to reach a critical user base without an acceptance from a wider community for what is still a rather generic service.

MySites has decided to go after gamers and university students.  MySites CEO, Ramine Darabiha, tells us that gamers and students are the kinds of users who respond the best to MySites as they tend to prefer sharing pictures and music. Many users also seem to use MySites as an “private online hard disk”, to access for example their school documents.

MySites had a strong presence at Lan79, a large European gaming LAN party. Ramine told us that this way they made important contacts there with key players in the online gaming industry, such as the largest online gaming news sites, event organizers , as well as several top teams.

This allowed MySites to gather attention for their own CounterStrike Source tournament that took place on the 9th of May when MySites organized a large one-night tournament for CounterStrike Source. The teams were competing for a total cash prize of 1000€. Coverage of this tournament was spread across 8 prominent online gaming news sites, namely Vakarm, Cadred, Team-aAa, eFever, Actu-Lan, London Mint, Team-Coolermaster, Inside Source. Additionally, Ramine told us that there was a live web tv stream of every match, which hosted up to 1000 spectators.

MySites has also been focusing their promotion on students, targeting student unions of universities of Oulu and Tampere. The company has been presenting the service to the heads of the student unions in order to get the most active members of the student body involved in promoting their services.

According to Ramine, as a result of these efforts, MySites is known by and has contacts in many of the top gaming teams and the staff of online gaming sites as well as uniniversity student unions. This in an interesting grass roots approach that reminds me of the the way Facebook spread in the early 2005 among university students before it hit the mainstream.

MySites is clearly facing the same IPR issues as any other site regarding the sharing movies and music online. Thus, it seems to be mainly a convenient way to store data into the cloud for one’s own personal use since it can hardly steel a significant share of the personal photo sharing business from Facebook, Flickr and the likes. In this respect the strategy of targeting niche audiences with specific needs might prove to be a wise approach.

Disclosure: MySites is sponsoring Arctic Startup Events