Interview with Russell Glass, CEO, Bizo, Inc.
Situation: A company has established market leadership in an emerging market. When you innovate in a niche, focusing on early adopters, eventually you run out of early adopters. The challenge is broadening the appeal to a larger mainstream customer base. How do you cross the chasm from early adopter to mainstream?
- The challenge is both messaging and cultural.
- In messaging, you must support the new norm. This means convincing the customer that if they are not with you, they’re being left behind. You need to demonstrate that your established, proven solution is the new norm.
- The cultural challenge is maintaining a culture of innovation and attracting the right talent while becoming a mainstream company. An attraction to new talent is that you are cutting edge – changing the world. This aura is critical to a start-up. You must maintain this innovative culture as you become the market leader.
- How do you overcome these challenges?
- Finding people who’ve been there and done that increases the odds in your favor. We hired a marketer who had helped take SuccessFactors through the same transition.
- Hire for excitement, energy and enthusiasm. Quickly remove new hires that turn out not to fit.
- Maintain a freedom to fail atmosphere. You need people who will take risks, but who will also step back and quickly change direction when the risk isn’t productive.
- Decision-making speed is a great advantage of small companies.
- Create an organization that celebrates innovation.
- We have “Hack Days” when employees are free to work on projects of their choice. A new product that brings business audience targeting to social media came from a Hack Day project.
- Keep everyone informed. We have company-wide daily stand-ups. Individual updates are quick – 30-45 seconds. This fosters open communication and awareness, and surfaces issues before they become problems.
- Weekly, we send out full disclosure emails including key financial metrics, successes and failures.
- Monthly we have executive-only stand-ups. These are longer, but updates are quick and focus on progress to goals, as well as next month’s goals.
You can contact Russell Glass at firstname.lastname@example.org
Key Words: Market Leader, Niche, Innovator, Early Adopter, Mainstream, Crossing the Chasm, Messaging, Culture, Cutting Edge, Hiring, Decision-making, Communication