The more we compete, the less we gain – Peter Thiel #MondayMorningWakeUpCall
Pop Quiz: What’s common between driving in traffic and driving a startup?
Answer: If you can pull yourself away from the crowd, your speed (and probability) of reaching the destination on time becomes (exponentially) higher. And what’s more, it comes sans the stress of a rat race.
The epiphany came to me when I was on my way to Pune last week, reading ‘Zer0 to 0ne’ by Peter Thiel (Paypal Co-founder) during the drive. In a particular section of the book Peter talks about the benefits of building a monopolistic company, which is, a company building so much value in its niche that it literally rules the market. This is in contrast to building a company in a crowded space amidst cut-throat competition by just re-packaging the same offerings, which is more likely to lead to everyone (or at least most) losing in the long run and sometimes even the short run.
Much like driving sans traffic vis-à-vis bumper traffic as I fathomed during my journey experience in my drive to Pune. For a change, I managed to leave well on time, at 7am, well ahead of the rush hour. I not only cut down my usual travel time by an hour (30%) by pulling myself away from the rush hour crowd, I also not once had stressed out during the journey to make time. Instead I soaked in the lush green scene en route and daydreamed about how to take Skillzot from 0 to 1.
To explain this simply, instead of fighting for apples from the same tree where half a dozen people are pulling each other’s hair and moustache to grab the most succulent apples, why not you plant an apple tree that gives blue apples, apples that will keep the doctor away, and, you can also promise your customer that she will never have to brush a single day.
Of course you could argue that making blue apples isn’t easy, maybe even impossible. But then again, is competing with blunt daggers any less difficult?
The idea here is that competing in a crowded market will at best lead to only incremental benefits. You can pull yourself exponentially ahead of a crowded market by creating new things that will make the future not just different, but better – to go from 0 to 1.