Success Breeds Coolness
Many sexy startups grew from boring spaces
Some entrepreneurs disregard “boring” areas without realizing they often contain the seeds for a breakout, transformative company. What’s boring is usually not the problem itself, but rather the available solutions.
Coolness is a function of success. Most elite companies begin life as awkward babies before maturing into coveted supermodels. The more successful the startup, the more celebrated it becomes. Wild success spices up an uninteresting industry like pepper spices up a bland dish.
A lack of enthusiasm indicates a lack of potential more than anything else. If you founded a billion dollar company whose product people loved, would you honestly not wake up every morning brimming with pride and passion? Premium coffee and credit card processing were dull spaces before Starbucks and Stripe emerged as iconic brands.
Many startups originated from uninspiring areas. They became trendy by introducing a disruptive solution or by focusing on underserved users, capturing consumer hearts or enterprise wallets in the process. In turn, their sector became “cool”.
Ideas for saturated markets, such as pre-Dropbox file sharing, tend to get brushed aside because there too many competitors exist. Yet “too many” competitors also suggests widespread demand, a vital ingredient for producing big companies.
Don’t dismiss ideas because the problem is boring. Dismiss ideas because the solution is boring — that is, undifferentiated and unable to delight users. Personal excitement will follow if the solution is disruptive, and coolness will follow if the startup is successful.
Here are examples of cool companies born in pedestrian areas:
- Stripe: credit card processing
- Nike: shoe manufacturing
- Facebook: social networking
- Airbnb: couch surfing
- Google: search engines
- Whatsapp: text messaging
- Instagram: photo sharing
- Dropbox: file sharing
- Nest: thermostats