In the past few years, we’ve seen the rise and fall of several interesting memes in the technology category. From serendipity, which we leveraged in a FunAdvice product re-envisioning, to being transformative, which was the subject of a marketing book I published earlier this year. Also you have probably read the countless references to being holistic, both here and elsewhere, as companies strive to be organic, natural, all encompassing and never missing a beat. When in college, I learned about being disruptive, the Innovator’s Dilemma, and now the new disruptive is being labeled as transformative. So what is the new meme?
Following that series of metaphors, of thought processes that push the collective intelligentsia of Silicon Valley to new heights, what’s the latest guru spouted meme which we should navel gaze upon? Well, it’s nearly the end of a calendar year here and I am positive we’re in a new era. One of transcendence, of companies who grasp the foundation and scale to new heights. These transcendent firms don’t just understand where the puck is going, they also consciously push the puck from it’s current trajectory, thus achieving disruption in their category and beyond. The companies that are breaking the mold and recasting it in their own image are the transcendent startups.
A startup I reviewed earlier today is one such company that’s missing the current meme of being transcendent. While their product is good, even interesting, it’s missing the strategy of moving the puck outside of the reach of others. It may have clearer pricing, but that’s something incumbent players can easily update. It may have more automation, however, that’s a well worn track which is already on the roadmap of every company, large and small. They may have passion, but one thing is common among every well run large scale enterprise, and that’s culture. From the day you join to your exit interview and beyond, large companies excel at creating, installing and building a company culture around a set of well defined principles.
One person I know refers to this as the process of drinking the koolaid, serving the koolaid and then making more In such an environment, you cannot succeed in breaking the shackles of the incumbent by an Apple-esque landing page and pithy marketing speak. The startup has to go beyond. If the enterprise offers rudimentary support, offer it 24 by 7. If the enterprise offers no uptime guarantee, promise five nines and a refund equal to every minute of downtime. If the larger firm offers Walmart style pricing, provide a price match guarantee, with a never ending lookback window. If the larger firm makes more money through cross sell than the generic product, offer that same generic product for free, and only charge through cross sell.
Transcendent companies are looking beyond the now at the seemingly impossible or inane and adopting it as their own, embodying the future with their undeniable foresight and building a community that believes in their vision. Fulfilling needs before they are perceived, anticipating wants and desires, eliciting spontaneous moments of awe and at the same time providing a bedrock of consistency, this is the nature of the transcendent startup. These companies understand the future trends; that we want to be well connected with the least amount of effort. We want that gennie in a bottle that grants our every wish. What do these transcendent companies do for me? They inspire me, they give me magic, I trust them and on top of all of that, I rave about them.