Build Bigger, Be different, Become Better.
When pitching to investors or judges, one aspect always to highlight is the competition you face in your industry. The worst answer is that “no one else is doing this.”
It either means you have not done your research good enough, or that your idea is so terrible no one else will even attempt to try it.
There is a one in a billion chance that its neither of the two above reasons, but I can’t see an investor taking the gamble.
A better way to respond to the question about competition is to highlight what the closest competitors are, and explain why you are different, and better at solving the problem the target faces.
For example, when the world’s first calculator was invented, true there were no competitors the company had in terms of calculators on the market. However, they did have competition from 3 areas,
a. Human mind
b. Solving sums by paper
Showing how the calculator is better at solving the sums from the above 3 reasons and a better way to solving the customers problem is better than saying “there is no competition for this calculator”
We were making a spaceship with my son out of Lego blocks. And I asking him what is the difference between a spaceship and the plane we made before. Why is it that if he has a plane, that he wants to make a spaceship?
He told me, in order to go higher, we need to build it bigger and better, also it needs to be different.
At LIFARE we are also looking for businesses that constantly iterate to get bigger and better, but always looking for different ways of doing it faster than their competitors.
I recall as a kid at the play ground, we used to sing
“First is the worst, Second is the Best, Third is the one with the hairy chest”
This was mainly sung by the person that came a close second in a race. But its meaning is crystallizing only now to me.
The person that comes very first to the market, by definition is the first to try it. There is so much that can go wrong, logistics, communication, marketing product placement, pricing. Many times the one thing that is wrong will have defined the product or service, and it will be extra work to have reversed the negative feelings.
The person that comes second, if smart enough will have the ability to learn from the mistakes of the first one. It should be a better offering. Apple has never been the first company to enter into any market. There were tablets before iPad’s there were smart phones before iPhone, and there were mp3 players before the iPod. They were able to excel at their offering to match the requirements of their customers at all times. Who is second must make the product a better product.
The person that comes third must be able to scale it faster, and give some degree of differentiation. But the focus must be on getting the product out as fast and aggressively as possible. What is probably meant with the “hairy chest” is the one with the guts to do it fast, and differently, ensuring its better at the same time.
Ideally when talking to investors, you would like to say why you are the 3rd person doing it, what you will learn from others mistakes, and why you will able to do it bigger, with differentiation, and be better all at the same time to address a problem that already exists. Its most important that you are not the 3rd person doing something in exactly the same way. If its not bigger and better, what’s the point? It can be only bigger and better if its different by design.
Within LIFARE we are looking for companies that are constantly iterating, learning from their mistakes as well as others all the time. The fact is that I come from a family business that happens to be in the diamond industry. So one of the values I wanted to incorporate in LIFARE along with Sustainable and Universal is the value of Forever. A Diamond is Forever. However, we are looking at forever in a different way that its seen within the Diamond industry. A Diamond is forever as it’s the same thing constant over a period of time. At LIFARE we believe that the only constant changes, so we are looking for companies that will able to last forever as they have the concept of constant improvement engrained within their DNA.
We were defiantly not the first accelerator in Belgium. We entered into a ecosystem that was quite advanced already. There was no place for an accelerator that does exactly the same thing as all others. So we picked and chose what was the best from all different accelerators, and changed the things that could be improved.
For example, the funding of 75k per startup that enters into the accelerator was us being BIG, that’s the largest ticket size for any accelerator in Belgium.
We were different as we experimented with having a virtual accelerator that does not give office space to the companies that enter the program. We saw office space as a commodity play, whose returns would diminish drastically over time. So we chose to be an accelerator without any office space offers. This immediately opened up 2 advantages to us. We could attract companies from a much wider geographical spread as relocation was not necessary.
Also, companies that are part of another accelerator program where relocation is necessary can also participate in our program.
We were better as we have a specific focus — sales. You can breathe in a lot of air, but if it's not getting any oxygen what’s the point? The same way your startup can be doing a lot, but if it's not got sales, what’s the point? We chose our niche to accelerate sales of B2B tech-related companies, who have proven the 0 to 1, and we will ensure they accelerate their 1 to n.
What offering can you give to your stakeholders that will be bigger, better, and different than what they expected?
Do you feel they will appreciate it and will take your relationship with them to the next level?
Think about the one relationship that you want to invest in, and then what you can do bigger, better and different than you are currently doing to have a return which is incrementally greater than the investment you will put in.
Don’t just think about it, Do it.
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Hey, thanks for reading this far, I am Miten Shah.
I founded a business accelerator name LIFARE, and our elevator pitch is,
“We give you money, so you sell more”
Sounds something that your business may benefit from?
You are probably wondering why i am doing this Legopreneur blogs?
The answer is simple,
a. So that I can play more Lego with my kids,
b. Talk to them about entrepreneurship,
c. Share the simple lessons with the universe.