Multiple Winners? A Great Market!
I spent time reading an interview of a tech CEO today. He discussed his market and why he’s excited about his company’s growth prospects. Each of the largest players in his industry has no more than 4% market share, yet a few of them do over $100 billion in annual revenue each. It’s a massive market. Large businesses can be built serving a small fraction of it. It’s certainly not a winner-take-all market: there will be multiple winners. This CEO thinks his company can grow rapidly for many years to come without owning a significant percentage of the market.
Market size is something early founders should consider. The size of the market (along with other factors) can have a big impact on the company’s ability to achieve sustained rapid growth. Big or rapidly growing markets are great for building high-growth companies. Small or declining markets usually make sustainable high growth much more difficult.
Disruption Causes Disruptors
I watched a video featuring a CEO who’s leading a publicly traded insurtech company. He shared his view that disruptors aren’t causing disruption. Instead, he believes that humanity is going through a period of transformation unlike any we’ve seen before. We’re seeing unprecedented change happening at a pace that’s exponential because of technology. This shift has created a wave of disruption that disruptors are riding. As he put it, disruption is causing disruptors.
At CCAW, we built technology that allowed us to offer a better experience to customers at a lower price. Because of the technology, we could do so consistently and in a way that was scalable. I didn’t view CCAW as a disruptor. We were a company bringing much-needed change to an antiquated space via technology.
We’re currently living through a period of stunning transformation because of technology. Over the next decade, we’ll continue to see expansive, blisteringly fast change in human society. One result will be a period of unheard-of entrepreneurial prosperity.
Weekly Reflection: Week Seventy-Seven
Today marks the end of my seventy-seventh week of working from home (mostly). Here are my takeaways from week seventy-seven:
- Resilience – I thought a lot about this and had some conversations about it. Life is full of ups and downs. Resilience helps people make it through the downs and is key to outsize success. It’s a big part of entrepreneurial success, for sure.
- Atlanta – This week we saw another big win for Atlanta’s tech community with Mailchimp’s acquisition announcement. Excited to see the city getting some much-deserved acknowledgment.
Week seventy-seven was a busy, steady one. I made good progress in some important areas. Aiming to continue that momentum next week.
All-in Founder Story
Today I listened to a founder tell his origin story. He had a dream as a child, and he put everything into making it come true. In high school, he was crushed when that path was closed to him. In college, he decided to start a company around that childhood passion. He went to school full-time and worked two jobs to bootstrap his start-up. He didn’t have the technical background to build the product he envisioned, so he taught himself the tech skills he needed. Eventually, he left college early to work on his company full-time. Fast forward a few years, and he now has customers lining up to give him over $1 million in annual revenue.
This founder has a big vision for his company. It hasn’t been an easy road, and he’s had to make significant sacrifices along the way. At every step, he’s proven that he’ll do whatever is necessary to turn his vision into reality. He’s all in. I have no doubt that he’ll become successful, and I’m excited to watch him continue his journey!
More on Community-Led Growth
I listened today to a founder discuss his marketing strategy. He has an established company that’s doing over $10 million in annual revenue—so, not a start-up. His strategy involves growing the company’s online community—he wants current customers, prospective customers, employees, and anyone else passionate about his space to participate.
I’m a fan of online communities and believe community-led growth will become an effective long-term growth strategy for companies. My conversation today is another data point that supports this belief.
Digital communities have been around for quite some time, but I think we’ll see them go from nice to have to must have for growing companies. I’m not sure how long this will take to play out, but I’ll be following the evolution closely.
Resilience Is Required for Company Building
I listened to a founder friend tell a story today about someone smart, accomplished, and on a clear path to success in corporate America. It was assumed this person was destined to achieve a lot. But he encountered some unexpected hurdles, and his path to success became less certain. He’d never had a major setback, so this was a shock to him. Unable to regroup quickly, he lost his way for years.
Everyone isn’t capable of powering through or recovering from difficult situations. This story was a reminder of that fact.
Founders need certain traits to be successful, and resilience is one of them. It’s something that sets founders apart from everyone else. They don’t let anything stop them from reaching their goals. Building a company will come with more than its fair share of impediments. Recovering from them and continuing building is crucial to founder success.
Atlanta’s Latest Decacorn: Mailchimp
Today Intuit confirmed that it’s acquiring Mailchimp for $12 billion. Mailchimp started by building software for other clients. Then it built a product to simplify marketing via email, pivoting the entire company around offering it to small and midsize businesses. Since then, the product has expanded into other areas, but it’s still focused on empowering SMBs.
Congrats to the Mailchimp team for a huge win. Atlanta has known this company is something special for a long time. Today, that was demonstrated to the world in a big way!
It’s OK to Expect Great Things If You Work Hard
I had a conversation with a friend not long ago. It was a reflective one—we talked about where he’d been and where he is now. He was surprised that he’d significantly improved his life after a tough beginning. As I listened, I thought to myself Surprised? Why? The reason things improved is that you put in the hard work.
I realized that he wasn’t giving himself enough credit. For years, he’s consistently worked hard, hoping to improve his situation. There wasn’t a lot of visible progress for much of that time, but he was laying a foundation. Eventually things began to align and click for him. He was able to see significant progress and recently reached a big milestone. It wasn’t dumb luck that these things happened. His consistent, intentional hard work is paying off.
If you want to accomplish anything great, there are no shortcuts. You have to work toward it regularly over a period of time. If you do, you’ll greatly increase the chance that you’ll end up where you want to be. When you get there, remember to celebrate. Give yourself a pat on the back. Your hard work and dedication paid off!
Perspective of a New ATLien
I connected with a fellow investor this past week. He recently moved to Atlanta from the Northeast. During our conversation, he shared a few thoughts about the city:
- Quality of life – He loves the quality of life in Atlanta compared to the big city he came from. It offers many things you’d expect in a major metro area but also plenty of quaint neighborhoods.
- Home – He purchased a home, and he sees himself being in Atlanta long-term. Housing prices in the city are very affordable compared to his previous city.
- Trend – Other people in his Northeast network are considering relocating to Atlanta.
- Entrepreneurship – Atlanta has smart founders and a pool of talented people. He sees more great companies coming out of Atlanta.
I’ve always thought Atlanta is a great city with a lot to offer. I’m happy it’s finally getting the credit it deserves and that others want to call it home!
Weekly Reflection: Week Seventy-Six
Today marks the end of my seventy-sixth week of working from home (mostly). Here are my takeaways from week seventy-six:
- Patterns – I took some time to step back and look at things from a higher level this week. I recognized some patterns that I’ll use to make better decisions.
- Short week – I love holiday weeks, but the downside is a condensed workweek (the same amount of work, less time to do it). Still, wouldn’t trade my three-day weekends for anything.
- Perspectives – I learn and grow the most when I’m around people who aren’t like me. Exposure to perspectives I either haven’t considered or haven’t understood is good for me. I want to look for more of these opportunities.
Week seventy-six was a steady one. I’m ready to push through September for a strong end to the quarter.