The problems of being a small, disruptive startup

People who dreams of disruptive technologies or processes and have the balls to execute them deserve to be successful right?

Na, wait long long.

Just look at Lytro. They specialize in what they call “Light Field Camera”, whatever that means. Their really cool technology allows photographers to just snap a photo first, and then choose their focus point later.

This concept in itself is huge, and this is possibly the pipe dream of photographers since the beginning of photography. They ought to be very successful and rich right now, right? Perhaps even a nobel price for revolutionizing photography?

Nope. They simply showed the world that there’s a demand or use case for a technology like this. But Lytro is a small kid, and for whatever foolish reasons they had, they decided not to license their hardware technology to anyone else.

So giants like Google and Nokia decided to achieve the same thing with software.

http://www.theverge.com/2013/11/13/5099000/nokia-refocus-download-for-pureview-lumia-windows-phones

https://gigaom.com/2014/04/16/googles-downloadable-android-camera-app-gets-bokeh-with-lens-blur/

With the release of the updated Android Camera app and the Nokia Refocus app, consumers can now achieve the same effect right in their mobile phones with a click on a button. No more shelling out crazy cash for a fancy camera. Not to mention, the original Lytro has really shitty image quality.

Now everyone who bought a Lytro looks really stupid. There’s also no reason for a company like Lytro to exist any more.

Disruptive startup, so what? Big players make you irrelevant as easy as killing an ant.

I’m looking at lots of Pebble advertisements on Facebook and the web, and I can’t help thinking they are trying to clear their stocks as fast as possible. The arrival of the official Android smartwatch powered by Android Wear, or the iWatch powered by iOS will render Pebble irrelevant immediately.

Pebbles are to Android smartwatches will be like what pocket calculators are to iPads. Heck, Pebble even use same cheapskate pocket calculator type LCD but brand it as “e-paper”. Please don’t confuse this with “e-ink”, the screen used by decent ebook readers.

Pebble, while a disruptive concept, is simply a set of cheap hardware in a watch form factor for USD150. One year later, they replace all the plastic parts with metal and tried to ask for USD100 more. Trust me, there’s no innovation going on in Pebble, and it shows.

By the time Android Smartwatches such as the Moto 360 or the legendary iWatch come out, Pebble would be cast out at the roadside and no one won’t pay any more attention to it then actual pebbles.

Product bashing aside, this underlines a very sad fate for startups and entrepreneurs.

You can be disruptive. You can impress everyone. But you will always be at the mercy of larger companies. And more so, if you are giving your consumers shitty value.

Yet another thing that startups should watch out for.

 


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