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TECH TALK: Reflections on Ideas and Entrepreneurship (Part 2)

July 22nd, 2003 · 1 Comment

All big companies were once small. At the same time, when every small company starts up, it imagines itself to be a big company some day in the future. Yet, few make the cut. In our world of today, every company wants to the Yahoo, Amazon, eBay or Google of its business. Or, perhaps, more ambitiously, the Microsoft of the world. These are the companies which have captured our imagination. Yet, just a generation ago, Microsoft didnt exist. And the others werent anywhere on the horizon a decade ago. This is what gives hope that a small company today can in a few years become a global power. This is what drives entrepreneurs to dream about and work on inventing the future.

Focus on non-consumption, not competition. A company is defined by its competition. I dont like competition because aggressive marketing and spending a lot of money is not something which I enjoy. I like to look for new, invisible markets and get there first. This gives me time to get things right because I know I am going to make some mistakes so might as well make them while no one else is watching! More importantly, the non-consumption market is typically much larger than the consuming market. It may not seem obvious, but as we will see in the Rurals idea, there are 3+ billion people in the worlds villages who are not being served enough by technology. That, by any benchmark, is a large market. It is just that it is spread out over 3 million villages and 150 countries.

Build a platform and an ecosystem. I remember reading this in one of Tim OReillys articles: Platform strategy always wins over an applications strategy. If we see todays big winners, many of them have built ecosystems around them. So, can we try and do the same? How can we become the centre of this ecosystem? A platform approach is also helpful because it is not easy to win the game by oneself. One will need support from other complementors might as well as plan for them.

Dont worry about todays pain points. These are markets which need to be cultivated and provided with solutions which they probably dont know they need. So, one is not necessarily existing pain points because the target segment seems to be getting along rather well without what the entrepreneur is offering. Seems contradictory, does it? Let me give an example. A few months ago, I did not even imagine that one day Id be getting hundreds of items from 100+ news feeds in my mailbox every day and end up wanting more! Then, I was quite satisfied to go to about 8-10 websites (and weblogs) daily. It wasnt really a pain after all, that was how things I had been doing things for many years. Whenever I wanted to search, I went to Google. But, something dramatically different can come along (in the form of our Info Aggregator) and made me realise the pain in the predays after I started using the service.

Envision tomorrow. This is perhaps one of the hardest things to do. It is also the most important. Today is visible all around us. But how will all that is happening today make a difference a few years from now? Because that is the world which we are building for. We need to think about where all the developments of today are leading. It does not matter whether one is right or wrong at this stage if we succeed in creating the future, we will be proven right! Otherwise, it does not matter. We are envisioning the world of tomorrow, and also through our actions seeking to create that future. Having a sense of the endgame helps decide what intermediate steps need to be taken. It also helps us orchestrate the others into exactly the positions that we want them.

Tomorrow: Part 3


TECH TALK Reflections on Ideas and Entrepreneurship+T

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