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Learn to disrupt. Less Er-ntrepreneur, more Entrepreneur

At the Fintech Private Equity and Venture Capital days I've attended in London recently I see pitch after pitch after pitch from aspiring Entrepreneurs but with so much Me-Too competition emerging in the Fintech space investment teams need to be able to quickly establish whether or not they believe a start up is clearly differentiated enough to be able to get a foothold in this exploding market.

Most aspiring Entrepreneurs spend weeks practicing and honing their pitches but in spite of their swaggering confidence many of them still fall into one of the most dangerous, but easiest to avoid traps - the Er Trap but we aren't talking about hesitation.

Nothing raises a red flag to an investor faster than an Entrepreneur juxtapositioning their brand with another company's proposition because it sets off trains of thought that raise questions about their company's long term viability and their ability to create disruptive new products that will bolster their long term potential.

When Entrepreneurs describe their brand as Bigg-er, Bett-er, Simpl-er, Cheap-er, Light-er, Healthi-er, Fast-er they're unwittingly telling us that they've already aligned their proposition and future product developments to one or more of their competitors and that they've already consigned themselves to being the subordinate upstart rather than innovative leaders and if fortune does smile on these new Entrepreneurs and they start eating into an incumbents market share then their better capitalized competitors can wipe out their advantage overnight by using simple Sustaining Innovation techniques that make their own products Bigg-er, Bett-er, Simpl-er, Cheap-er, Light-er, Healthi-er or Fast-er. Features, might I add, that they then all too often give away for free...

Increasingly it's looking like the leaders of this new Fintech led world are going to be those who break the mold, dare to create new markets and redefine the status quo by addressing their customers unmet needs in new ways that are effortless, more convenient, more accessible and more affordable.

Modern day history and the rise of the Unicorns continue to show us that the companies that made disruptive innovation a key cultural cornerstone made their competition irrelevant from the off and ultimately became the new yard stick that investors use to measure the market.

If you look back across time you'll see that most great brands stood apart from the rest. Who did Mark Zuckerberg compare Facebook to when he pitched for investment? Who did Uber compare themselves to? Or Airbnb? Or Alibaba? Or Jawbone? Or Apple? Or GoPro? Or Twitter? Or Hailo? The list could go on.

Investors are inspired by Pioneers whose propositions are so ground breaking and so simple to understand that it's harder to see why customer's wouldn't buy into them but perhaps more importantly these are the companies that contain the cultural DNA that ensure they stay leaders and that is something that's much harder to find.


Being a Me-Too brand is easy - thousands are spawned every day but if you dream about being the next Google, or the next Barclays then your proposition has to stand on its own two feet. Companies that rely on being Bigg-er, Bett-er, Simpl-er, Cheap-er, Light-er, Healthi-er or Fast-er than their competitors can quickly find their advantage eroded, their growth stunted and new funding harder to secure.

As an Entrepreneur you have the envious benefit of starting with a blank sheet of paper from which to plan your path to world domination so use it to your advantage and be the next disruptor. Good luck!




Comments: (1)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 23 July, 2015, 14:39Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Good post but, being on both sides of the table, I can see where these startups are coming from. Problem is most angels and VCs are themselves not pathbreaking and would rather stick to the "known devil" territory. Very early in the pitch, they want to be able to place the new startup in front of them into a pigeonhole defined by a successful startup XYZ viz. Uber of this, AirBnB of that, etc. When that happens, the next obvious question is how're you different from XYZ (and other XYZ-clones that're already in the market) and the -ers follow soon. I'm not saying that this is the right way to pitch but I've seen many sound, but clean-slate, pitches falling flat with investors who couldn't "get" them within the few allotted minutes.