Silicon Valley is hailed as the capital of innovation for entrepreneurs. With its numerous success stories and continuously-expanding venture capital, many entrepreneurs aim to be part of this ecosystem. However, success can definitely be found outside of the Valley and here are two important factors to keep in mind:
From Disruption To Creation
In the Valley the mindset is to disrupt and replace an existing industry or product. Disruption is more viable within the Valley’s ecosystem thanks to the wealth of venture capital present, which sees entrepreneurs and startups being able to withstand taking high risks in order to grow as rapidly as possible, and assert market dominance.
Outside the Valley, in what we can call the Frontier, entrepreneurs and startups need a different type of mindset: to be creators instead of disruptors. It is not about replacing an existing service or product, it is about creating a new service or product that was not available before in the market.
The business approach in the Frontier should be human-centric and target social issues, in order to innovate in industries that get ignored for the most part by the Valley. Industries such as: agriculture, education, health care and financial services. If you are able to create a product or service for people underserved by society, you can have a much greater impact and ensure a more sustainable growth.
Be A Camel, Not A Unicorn
A unicorn symbolizes a company valued at over $1 billion and the Valley’s mindset facilitates the pursuit of this magical creature. Startups and entrepreneurs focus on scaling rapidly at all costs to attain market success and then exit early after just a couple of years.
Out in the Frontier, the pursuit is much more grounded. It is better to be a camel than to be a unicorn. A camel is able to live without food or water for longer periods of time and can survive the harshest environments. To be a camel is to embody a mindset of sustainability and resilience.
The strategic plan for frontier entrepreneurs and startups must account for the constraints around them. Start small by focusing on one area, tailor your fundraising for that specific area in mind, and gradually build your customer base at a value that encourages loyalty. It is about taking a long term and balanced approach to growth.
Startup entrepreneurs can make it outside of the Valley and what is required in order to do so is a shift in mindset. Instead of trying to disrupt an industry, be a creator and aim to provide a product or service that benefits those underserved by society. Start local or small and approach your business plan as a camel at a steady and smart pace. Your end goal can still be world-changing, but keep in mind that it will take time and that growth will be moderate. This will ensure you have a more sustainable and resilient company to carry you there.