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Oct 7th, 2021 Share: Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn

Ten Things I Learned: No 2 — Faster

Welcome to the second post in our “celebrating 1,200 Heretic posts” series. After talking about “being better”, let us dig into better’s big sister: Speed!

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Allyson Felix, the most decorated woman in Olympic track and field history, epitomizes the concept of simply being faster than anyone else.

Particularly for startups, speed quickly becomes your main advantage.

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When I worked at Google, I regularly found myself in conversations with young founders, who kept fretting over Google’s (or any other big company’s) ability to copy their idea and simply steamroll over them. The story in their head sounds like this: If they see my brilliant idea and its potential, they will copy it, put hundreds of their most brilliant engineers and business people onto it, and then market it to their billions of users.

My response to that story was always the same: Before anyone at Big Tech Company had set up their first meeting to even remotely contemplate your idea, you had months of building and rolling our your product or service. By the time Big Tech Company made a decision, you have launched version 1. The day they launch their copycat, which — of course — is riddled with idiosyncrasies of big company BS, you are on version 2.1. The time it takes them to set up a focus group to understand what their users need and want, is what you need to talk to your users, roll out a bunch of smaller releases, gather more feedback — and build what your users want and need.

There is a reason why most efforts from big companies to copy something which is in the market fail — and why they end up buying your startup. And that reason is simply speed.

Your main advantage as a startup founder is your ability to be faster.

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Here is a classic read on the topic: Frederick Brooks’ “The Mythical Man-Month” is a fantastic insight to why it is that projects (and in turn companies) become slower, the more resources they have and apply.

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