Michael talks with Christopher Lochhead. Christopher is co-author of “Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets”.
Michael and Christopher start the podcast talking about the commonalities between most innovators and entrepreneurs. The legendary innovators that make their companies into a success focus on three main points: product design, company design, and category design. Category design is about inventing a whole new space in the world for their product. Legendary innovators are just as thoughtful about their category design as they are of product and company design.
Christopher and his co-authors went back and looked at every start up company founded in the United States dating back to 2000. They asked, “What percentage of the market cap in the category goes to the category king or leader?” On average the category king captured 76% of the markets profits. Category design is a secret “black art” in Silicon Valley. Only about 10% of companies are thinking about teaching the world to accept their new innovation. If you do not teach your consumers, then you are leaving your company up to chance, waiting to see if people will figure your company out on their own. Christopher stresses that when you create a product that fits into an existing category, you are by definition playing someone else’s game. And you are fighting for essentially only 25% of the market. He uses Microsoft as an example.
Michael asks Christopher to go into the idea of “disrupting the marketplace” with new ideas. Christopher says that “disrupting” is actually the wrong way to go about looking at things. Elvis did not disrupt Jazz, he just created a new genre that we now know as rock and roll. And in the same way, Les Paul created the electric guitar. He did not ruin the acoustic guitar; they just sit side by side now.
“When someone comes up with a new category, how do you determine pricing?” Christopher says that the category king has pricing power. You get to decide what the pricing is if you create the category. And in order to become a category king, the CEO needs to spend at least half of his/her time articulating the problem that has been solved with their product to the customer. Christopher goes into detail and uses Pixar as an example of this concept.
The category king dynamic is not geographically bound. There tends to be different kinds of technology that breaks through in different parts of the world, but that is really the only difference. In many parts of the developing world there is even more of a focus on getting the “product, company and design” right.
In this episode of Trend Following Radio: