The Democratization of Products

The Democratization of Products

February 9, 2017

The democratization or our products is here.

It’s been brewing ever since manufacturing was outsourced and specialized and since aggregation sites like product hunt pulled together everything in one location. Word travels fast. 

Done something incredibly interesting lately? Expect to see it elsewhere in the ether soon. 

Look at your Instagram feed… how often are you seeing something that truly catches your eye? That really can’t be passed up? Lately, it’s all more of the same, plants, overhead coffee shots, hiking photos. We stay safe and post what others post. OR what we think people want to see. We push the genre… only slightly. 

I’m not saying I’m excluded from this group, all I’m saying is we’re more synched up on the culture than ever before. And most of your ideas will no longer remain that special. 

And if you build something of value, something new…. it get’s ripped off immediately. 

This 24 year-old beats Kickstarter’s to market.

All it takes is some guts, some phone calls to China, and an eye for what’s picking up traction and you can rip anything that’s produced, rebrand it, throw ads up and take advantage of the innovator’s success.

Can you protect yourself? 

No, and worrying about the knock-offs is time wasted… 

Anyways, the first mover still typically garners 10x the profits and brand awareness.

The Fidget Cube raised $6 Million whereas the knock-off only brings in a few hundred k.

People want the originals. Not the knock off’s. Would you rather meet up with Bob Barker or Drew Carey? Would you even care that much to take a meeting with Warren Buffet or the 2nd most prominent HedgeFund you haven’t heard of? 

The originals will be remembered, but we will also move on from them unless they continue to do something that’s scarce. 

You build something, ship, take a risk. If it hits, you’ll be rewarded greatly.

This is competition. It’s business. It forces you to win on what’s actually hard to create.

We all have a leg up thanks to those that come before us.

We all follow frameworks and take hints and gather inspiration. Artist’s who build value use frameworks but add their own flare. They remix and tweak the mold, rare would it be that something totally new is created.

Can we be so arrogant to think that we can own an idea? That it’s “our art” ?— when we all stand on the backs of artists from all of history until now? 

But people still get upset by this. Somebody taking your idea? Innovate! 

Are we mad that 2 different fashion brands both make can Blue Jeans? Or that two car companies both make vehicles that essentially take you from point A to point B?

Instagram copied Snapchat. And now Instagram just hit its fastest monthly growth ever.

And Facebook took hints from Myspace..

When our ideas are democratized, we’re forced to do what’s risky. And innovators do what’s hard.

This is how you build value. Do something that’s really freaking hard. When a product becomes democratized it’s no longer difficult to create, thus the value drops. Prices go down. 

Compete elsewhere or reinvent.

Making the first iPhone was incredibly hard. Making the 8th iPhone is no longer “hard.” There’s just not much room left to go with it. The parts are all made at the same manufacturer as every other phone.

The product is made by dozens of other companies. 

Brand awareness and attention, that’s hard.

A global supply chain, that’s hard.

And eventually, the category will be reinvented. This is what Apple did well. They defined a new product category. 

That’s what’s needed today. Once it’s been democratized innovate again, or get left behind. 

So if you’re just now starting a blog, ask yourself what’s actually hard about this?

And if you’re posting photos of your cat hoping it will catch on… what are you doing that’s hard? 

You figure out “what’s hard” in your line of business and you overcome it. It’s the only way to succeed.

Doing what else is readily available in the market and you won't get heard. Do what others can't do, and you can charge for your value. 

There are no easy rides to success.

That’s Art. It’s hard. The Beatles played over 600 shows before they were signed. 

That’s business, it’s hard. Apple started in a garage in 1976. Keeping at it this long is hard.

Don’t be surprised that you’re forced to keep going instead of resting at the top of the mountain. 

We must reinvent, again and again.

David Sherry