spoon-boyI was invited to give a lecture to the class of MBA students at Reykjavik University. The topic I am going to talk about is “There is no Competition“. I believe in putting first things first. When you are at the early stage of building a company or product or service, the most destructive thing you can do is start thinking about competition and what the competition is doing. I am not saying don’t study what the competition is doing, I believe you should be aware but not make it the focus of your existence. The best analogy that I can come up with was the scene in the movie Matrix, hence the title.

When I was the CEO of GreenQloud, a number of people kept asking me how we were going to compete with Amazon Web Services or Google or Microsoft. We at GreenQloud at that time never focused much on what AWS was doing or Google, we knew that we were addressing a specific problem within the Cloud Computing industry. The value we brought was in making cloud computing easy and accessible to everyone. We focused on our users who cared a lot about the environment but were not really technologically savvy. We made it easy for them to do complex technical stuff without being a system administrator or rocket scientist, our user interface was designed to make everything intuitive and simple to do. I believe that is what converted a number of people who were technical into using our platform and also changed our business model. The jury is still out on how GreenQloud will fare in the market, but I feel comfortable knowing that we changed the game and went after a totally underserved market. You can read all about it in the GreenQloud Blog. We would have never been able to execute if we had focused on what AWS was doing or any of our competitors in the Public Cloud market.

The same case is true for many of the startups. I get this question all the time, how come I believe in teams that are building things that have competition. Competition does not matter if you are able to solve the questions of proprietary technology, network effects, economies of scale and branding. These are not check boxes you fill but make a conscious effort to address these major things. These ideas are age old and Peter Thiel captures it very succinctly in his book Zero to One. I think I have written a lot about why I believe this is the best time to be an entrepreneur because we are at a watershed moment in time where anyone can build these 4 things in a company and reinvent established industries. Why is it difficult for established companies to do this? because of legacy and other reasons. It should be an interesting discussion as most of the students are probably going to go work for an established company hopefully I can change their thinking a bit.