The early seventies saw the launch of the pocket calculator. As a kid at that time growing up in Palo Alto, I went door to door selling the Litronix 1100, one of the early pocket models. My father, an attorney who represented many startups including Litronix, would bring them home for me to sell.
Compared to the “adding machines” of the day which were the size of a typewriter, the 1100 was small, sleek, portable, and with its LED display completely visible in the dark.
As I went from house to house, I watched as my neighbors marveled over these tiny “adding machines.” So much so, they often promptly bought one, two, sometimes three calculators on the spot, with hardly any sales pitch.
At a young age I saw first-hand the appeal of a new technology that could essentially sell itself. It was an early lesson that has always stuck with me. Innovative and unparalleled product is the tip of the enterprise spear.
When businesses and consumers recognize a pioneering, well designed solution, they have to have it and can’t live without it. Novel product creates incredible kinetic energy for marketing and sales. Successfully growing a startup without state-of-the-art solutions or game changing business models is grueling, and at best full of expensive headwinds on the lead generation and conversion front.
Truly groundbreaking solutions that are momentous, elegant and simple don’t come along often. They don’t require brute force customer acquisition strategies. They fly off the shelves as my pocket calculators did in the early seventies.
The greatest successes in my investment career have been with entrepreneurs who get this. They lead with innovation in mind, a deep understanding of their customers, and product management that is superlative. They understand that even the best marketing or sales strategy will lose out to ordinary solutions that do not enthrall users.
At Signal Peak Ventures, we seek out entrepreneurs who believe this passionately– entrepreneurs who fervently believe great product solutions are second to none.