If you can’t beat them, you join them” might be the norm. But today, i want to bring to you seven companies that went against the norm. These startup companies were able to outrun the giants despite their smaller budget.
Just like David and Goliath, these startup companies have reinforced the fact that your budget size or capitalization base do not guarantee that you will win the race. Smartness, instead of budget size determines the winner.
“The most important ‘speed’ issue is often not technical but cultural. It’s convincing everyone that the company’s survival depends on everyone moving as fast as possible.” – Bill Gates
“My most important word in business is ‘Strategy’ and the reason is this: The speed at which your business grows is directly proportional to the overall strategy deployed on that business and the team behind the creation of that strategy.” – Ajaero Tony Martins
Without wasting much of your time, below are seven startup companies that whipped the ass of giant companies.
1. Amazon.com vs. Barnes & Noble
The story of Amazon.com thrills me the most. Before the eyes of everyone, Amazon.com rose from the dust. With limited budget and no inventory, Amazon.com was able to beat pants down, all the well established book giants including Barnes & Noble.
Even Barnes & Nobles threat to turn Amazon.com to Amazon.toast proved futile. Today Amazon.com with a staggering growth rate is now the largest bookstore on earth. Not bad for a startup company with limited budget and no inventory.
2. Virgin Atlantic vs. British Airways
Apart from being a fun loving company, Virgin Group also has a silent slogan dangling on its neck and the slogan reads; “beware the giant killer.” Virgin Group has openly confronted giants such as AOL, British Airways and Coca Cola but the one that seems spectacular to me is the fight between Virgin Atlantic and British Airways.
Virgin Atlantic, a small startup company is owned by British Billionaire; Richard Branson. Virgin Atlantic success story is such an inspiring one. It is inspiring because Virgin Atlantic rose out of the ashes, confronted British Airways, wrestled British Airways to a stand still and whipped its ass, broke British Airways monopoly and became Britain’s most preferred airline.
British Airways used everything within its might to intimidate and subdue Virgin Atlantic but Virgin refused to be cowed by the ranting of the giant. In the end, Virgin Atlantic triumphed. Not bad for a fun loving company with no initial experience in the airline industry. The lesson from this story is this; ‘monopoly can be broken, all it requires is one smart plan.’
3. Microsoft vs. IBM
The primary lesson from the battle that occurred between this startup company and the giant is this; “never underestimate your opponent, no matter how small the outlook of that opponent.” IBM’s greatest mistake was to look at Microsoft as a walk over; an ant to be crushed with a finger. Back then in 1980, Microsoft was a $7million company while IBM yearly revenue was about $30billion. A 20th century case of David and Goliath.
Microsoft was able to whip the ass of IBM because its founder, Bill Gates was a visionary. He saw a future where there will be a personal computer in every home; with the users of these personal computers needing easy to use softwares. IBM executives could not catch the vision because they looked down on Microsoft, instead of looking up at the future.
IBM lost its leadership position to Microsoft. Not bad for a $7million company that whipped the ass of a $30billion revenue company. The lesson from this story is this; never look down on anyone. Be it a company, competitor, an idea or individual.
4. Facebook.com vs. MySpace.com
I won’t call this a battle but a game of fastest fingers first between two dot com enthusiasts. Now both companies are dot com babies founded by dot com enthusiasts. MySpace.com hit the web space before Facebook.com and immediately became the toast of all. But before MySpace.com could say Jack, Facebook.com came along and whipped their ass out. By the time the whipping was over, MySpace.com was left in the dust with FaceBook.com bouncing on with most of MySpace users.
From my analysis, MySpace thought they were made. They thought they had reached market saturation with estimated 20million users. FaceBook came along with a more innovation oriented team and whipped MySpace.com out of the top position in the social networking world.
Today, FaceBook is the world’s number one social networking website and the second most popular website on the internet, ranking next to Google.com; which holds the number one position. FaceBook has also made its founder; Mark Zuckerberg the youngest self made billionaire. Mark was worth $1.5billion at the age of 23. As at March 2010, his net worth; according to Forbes was estimated at $4billion.
Not bad for an aggressive and innovative company that was started in the dormitory of Harvard. The first lesson from this story is this; no matter your status, there is always room for improvement. The second is this; if you don’t innovate, you will become obsolete.
5. YouTube.com vs. Google.com
The story of YouTube is not that of a battle but a game plan with a smart entry and exit strategy. YouTube.com is a video sharing website founded by Steve Chen and Chad Hurley. In less than six months, YouTube became the toast of video sharing freaks. What really got Google involved with YouTube was that Google was also trying to push its own video sharing site without making headway.
After all tactics deployed by Google with the aim of surpassing YouTube.com failed, Google had no other choice than to use the “if you can’t beat them, buy them” approach. In its tenth month of operation, Google.com acquired YouTube.com for a whooping sum of $1.5billion.
$1.5billion is not bad for just an investment with a ten month time frame. I wonder what the ROI on YouTube.com would be. But i am quite sure it is in the billions. The lesson from this story is this; don’t always engage the giants in a fight especially when the giants are willing to part with a chunk of cash for your young company. Just take their money and exit.
6. Skype.com vs. AT&T
The battle between Skype.com and AT&T has not begun but i am predicting its occurrence in the future. Skype.com is a dot com baby that offers free long distance video and voice calls over the internet. AT&T, the bigger company still offers calls at the regular pay as you go rate.
I predict that AT&T’s ass will be whipped by Skype.com in the future except they upgrade their technology or acquire Skype.com; just as Google did with YouTube. The lesson from this story is this; don’t wait till it’s too late before you make the necessary change.
7. PlentyofFish.com vs. Match.com
The story of PlentyofFish.com is really an exciting one. It’s a story of how a young individual engaged and won a corporate entity that has many years of experience. PlentyofFish.com is a dating site founded by Mark Frind. The most interesting thing about PlentyofFish.com is that it’s being run from home. Mark Frind competed and won the more established, powerful dating companies such as Match.com and eHarmony.com right from his closet.
As at today, April 2010, Mark Frind makes an average of $450,000/month from PlentyofFish.com. Not bad for a sole proprietorship business run from home. I just hope Mark Frind can keep up the pace with his growing website; which is now the most popular dating site on the net.
The stories shared above are just to reinforce your faith that nothing is impossible. These giants may possess huge capital and the corporate muscle to crush your business but you can outsmart these giants by being aggressive, bold and innovative. I wonder the giant company’s ass that will be whipped next; i leave that for you to guess.