5 Lessons from winners...
In late 2014, I spent some extended time with the management teams of Wix and Freedompop within a few days of each other - it was a unique vantage point that offered some interesting perspectives. The first company is a NASDAQ listed company and one of our firm's best investments and the other is one of our next big stars in the making.
What struck me were the obvious similarities.
The more "quality" time I spent with them, the more I realised that there was a common thread. This intrigued me and I opened my history book and thought back to our experience with Skype. Wouldn't you know it, I began seeing a pattern. Everyone of course has their own recipe, but I like to believe that there is a certain "method to the madness". Here are the top 5 things that I think have contributed to making each company a success:
Simple to articulate identity. Both companies can articulate what they do in a handful of words. While this sounds simple to do, you can't imagine the number of companies we come across that fail to be able to articulate their "raison d'être" in a simple and comprehensible way.
Product focus. Both companies have an unbridled focus on product. It is what allows them to demonstrate that the vision they have articulated is followed-up by a product which is super easy and slick to use. Both companies are committed to bringing ONE customer experience to the market. They do not stray from this discipline. They have often been tempted, but it always comes back to the same question: "are we still true to our core offering?"
Passion. Both companies still have passionate founders. While its fair to expect this from 3 year old Feedompop, Wix is now over 8 years old. Nothing beats passion - it is the fuel of success. Last summer I wrote a post specifically about this: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140710163955-4219490-passion-the-energy-drink-of-start-ups?trk=mp-reader-card
Humility. I can't say this enough "you know what you know, not what you don't". Great founders understand this and look for advice from a variety of sources. They are not shy about it, recognising that innovating is hard, lonely and fraught with traps. The key is to balance the great innovative ideas with some tried and tested ones. No shame in getting some of the inspiration from elsewhere.
Be contrarian. Think differently in everything you do. As an innovator you are a contrarian, be proud and true to this calling. It is a lonely place and you will often be criticised, and told that "it won't work". Both companies embody this philosophy and have driven it into the very fabric of their company.
Success is not easy and you will need your fair share of luck as well, but the similarities between Wix and Freedompop exemplify what it takes to be a successful innovator.