I am a great supporter of the concept of startups swarm. How do I understand it? You are sitting by the lake and drinking coffee. Maybe a wine with a girl or a group of friends. You are watching the surroundings. You are relaxed. Suddenly, mosquitoes are coming. Yes, those boring, rattling creatures. The party moves to another place because these little monsters bite mercilessly.
A large corporation exists somewhere in the world. International one. It holds an honorable place on Forbes, Time lists, etc. The team is relaxed, happy, busy. For many years, it has been looking at the stock price, profits. A company watches the world from the roof of great skyscrapers or even helicopters. Suddenly, the mosquitoes are coming. Slowly but steadily. Where is the party going to move? Let's see.
Warby Parker, such an inconspicuous company with glasses. Nothing big. Seriously ? It just turned out that they have registered $ 1.7 billion revenue level. Established in 2010, it has 56 stores in Canada and the USA. Here is their ad in the NY subway system.
Another company Casper (startup), that specialise at the production of mattresses. They have ads like that:
Soon it is going to go on the stock market because some billion of revenue happened to them. They started 5 years ago.
Many examples could be mentioned. One thing is certain clients of those companies not only buy because the product is great, they buy because they love those companies. Could you fall in love with P&G, Unilever or Wells Fargo? I leave this question unanswered because I do not know what is the answer.
Swarm is coming, startups are coming, which follow the path of love for niche customers. Glossier is another interesting company (beauty). It has 60,000 people on its waiting list. These people are waiting to be able to buy products which are not launched yet. Have you ever signed up for a waiting list in Walmart? (don't mistake it with wishlist).
I could mention more mosquitoes. It's not a problem. What is the conclusion? How can you relate to this?
Firstly, will mosquitoes overturn buffalos? I personally think that it is not possible. The resources, experience, knowledge that large corporations possess are a guarantee of their stability and bankruptcy are unlikely to happen, in my opinion. However, there remains an up-to-date question where will the party take place? Amazon took over Whole Foods, so the party is now in Amazon's tent. Can Mercedes, Nike, BP, Shell and others parties move somewhere? Certainly yes. Mercedes has myTaxi (Europe). German company tries to keep the anonymous car party in Mercedes's tent. myTaxi will provide Mercedes with plenty of data to make the adventure with autonomous cars more interesting and...... successful.
Twilio and T-Mobile will make the washing machine able to tell you to feed it with powder, otherwise your appliance will not wash your socks. The dishwasher will tell you that it is approaching the warranty period so you might be interested in extending it. Home appliance manufacturers will be happy to buy this data from T-Mobile to keep the party under the roof.
I would not like to be at a retailing party in the US today, where a crazy swarm of startups (incl. Amazon) would like to win the market. Examples: Blue Apron, at which in the time of 3 years took the evaluation of 2 billion bucks. Bonobos (Walmart has already acquired them = Walmart managed to grab the mosquito in the cage). Wayfair, which tries to bite IKEA.
The party at the lake continues. Startups are coming from different directions (fintech, retail, food etc.). They are happy to join the party and bite participants. They are happy to move the party somewhere else.... far away from Forbe's lists.
Arek is a co-founder of K2 Digital Ventures which helps large companies build innovative products and services thanks to cooperation with global innovators. Arek works with senior executives on designing, incubating and scaling innovative initiatives. Clients we have helped: Danone, Shell, Discovery Networks, P&G, LaGardere, Roche, IKEA & more. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Invite him to speak at your next event.
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