At our Venture Capital days our we see pitch after pitch from aspiring Entrepreneurs but with so much Me-Too competition our teams need to quickly establish whether or not they believe a brand is clearly differentiated enough to be able to get a foothold in its chosen market. Most aspiring Entrepreneurs spend weeks practicing and honing their pitches but in spite of their swaggering confidence many of them still fall into one of the most dangerous, but easiest to avoid traps – the Er Trap but we aren’t talking about hesitation.
Nothing raises a red flag to investors faster than an Entrepreneur juxtapositioning their brand with another company’s proposition because it sets off trains of thought that raise questions about their company’s long term viability and their ability to create Disruptive Innovative new products that will improve their long term potential.
When Entrepreneurs describe their brand as Bigg-er, Bett-er, Simpl-er, Cheap-er, Light-er, Healthi-er, Fast-er they’re telling us that they’ve already aligned their proposition and future product developments to one or more of their competitors and that they’ve already consigned themselves to being the subordinate upstart rather than innovative leaders and if these new Entrepreneurs do start taking market share from the market incumbents then their often better capitalized competitors can wipe out their advantage overnight by using simple Sustaining Innovation techniques to make their own products Bigg-er, Bett-er, Simpl-er, Cheap-er, Light-er, Healthi-er or Fast-er – features which they often give away for free…
Leaders are typically those companies that break the mold – they avoid getting caught in the gravitational pull of their would be competitors by creating new markets or by redefining the status quo of an existing one by using Disruptive Innovation techniques that help them address their customers unmet needs in new ways that are effortless, more convenient, more accessible and more affordable and history has shown us time and time again that the companies that took disruptive innovation to heart made their competition irrelevant and became the new yard stick that investors used to measure the market.
If you look back across time you’ll soon see that most great brands stood apart from the rest. Who did Mark Zuckerberg compare Facebook to when he pitched for investment? Who did Uber compare themselves to? Or McDonalds? Or Walmart? Or GE? Or Apple? Or GoPro? Or Twitter? Or Airbnb? Or Hailo? The list could go on.
Investors are inspired by Pioneers whose propositions are so ground breaking and so simple that it’s harder to see why customer’s wouldn’t buy into it but perhaps more importantly these are the companies that contain the cultural DNA that ensure they stay leaders and that is something that’s much harder to find.
Being a Me-Too brand is easy – thousands are spawned every day but if you are sincere about building a new business then your proposition has to stand on its own two feet. Companies that rely on being Bigg-er, Bett-er, Simpl-er, Cheap-er, Light-er, Healthi-er or Fast-er than their competitors can quickly find their advantage eroded, their growth will stagnate and then inevitably new funding will be harder to secure.
As an Entrepreneur you have the benefit of starting from a clean slate so use it to your advantage. Be the Original Disruptor and harness Disruptive Innovation techniques that help you design and create valuable, differentiated products then embed the spirit of innovation into your company’s DNA.