Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon, recently published his letter to Amazon shareholders. It’s a good, inspiring read into Bezos’ vision for Amazon, and how he pushes the company to constantly stay ahead of its competitors. Here are a few key tenets:
  • “Day 1”. Bezos opens the letter describing why he constantly focuses on Day 1 – customer obsession, eager adoption of external trends, etc. Beyond Day 1 is Day 2, “stasis” which leads to irrelevance and then decline and death. He focuses every day on Day 1.
  • “True Customer Obsession” is at the heart of Day 1. Bezos claims every customer, no matter how much s/he says is happy, is dissatisfied. Customers always want more, better – even if s/he doesn’t know it. For Bezos, he pushes Amazon to always innovate on behalf of the customer.
  • As part of true customer obsession is the notion of getting to the true crux of how customers feel about a product or service – “resist ‘proxies’” like surveys.
  • “Embrace External Trends”. In this case, Bezos is referring to realizing and capitalizing on macro trends. Fighting a big trend is like “fighting the future”. Instead, embrace the trend (i.e. artificial intelligence), and you can ride it like a tailwind.
  • “Disagree and commit”. To make decisions expeditiously, Bezos will openly voice his disagreement (usually a genuine disagreement of opinion), but commit to supporting an opposing idea. The idea here is that being wrong may be less costly than being slow – which is “going to be expensive for sure”.
  • Quickly escalate points of disagreement/ misalignment. Making a decision based on “wearing one down” is slow and “de-energizing”.

Give the letter a look-over.

Back in November, I wanted to wrap my head around what was going on in the world. The world has been moving so fast, and if you’re looking to build a successful venture that can withstand some sense of time, I believe you have to either recognize where the world is going, or play a role in building the future.

At this time, I also read about how many brick and mortar retailers were employing new technology and ideas to combat online retailers, especially Amazon. Retailers will (some already are) tracking your every movement once you’ve walked into the store to understand customer behaviors. Heck, even gas stations such as Tesco are looking to install screens at gas pumps to target advertisements vis-a-vis facial recognition.

This got me thinking that to build a startup, you can also look at ways to help those who are on the brink of… death. Think about it. With the rise and quicker deaths (or barely living) of companies such as RIM (Blackberry), Kodak, Nokia, etc., it’s imperative for large companies who are far from agile to plant defenses for their own mortality. Perhaps, then, even dying companies when shown a grim future can be a hot market to address. I can’t help but think of also how companies like NCR and IBM pulling at their collars over the shifts from large antiquated point-of-sale (POS) systems to more agile mobile payment cloud solutions.

So, without further ado, I put together a spreadsheet (woo, spreadsheets) back in November trying to plot out some different trends I’ve been seeing. I’ve included the following fields to try to put some context on the trends in hopes of finding a good position to situate a startup.

  • Trending Towards. What’s the trend?
  • What is it? What is the trend?  What’s happening?
  • Key examples. Who’s involved in this movement?
  • Trending Away From (replacing). What are we moving away from?
  • Who’s Getting Shunned. Who is getting hurt?  Who’s losing market share?
  • Challenges. What are the hurdles of this trend?
  • Opportunities. How can this trend be further cultivated?  How can those getting hurt and losing turn the corner?
  • Opportunists. Who is capitalizing on this trend to not only be involved, but who is establishing themselves as a key winner from this trend?
My list is just as far as my eye can see, and so it’s apparent I’m not in the details of every industry, nor do I know of all the great startups already around. So, this list is definitely not exhaustive. If you’re looking for a copy of the above, just shoot me a message on LinkedIn and I’ll be happy to send it to you.
So what are your thoughts of the trends? What are some other trends you see we’re going?