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Mike Maples, Part 3: Don't be the best, be the only

Perfect competition isn't perfect, so entrepreneurs need to 'transcend' the competition

Innovation series by Steven Loeb
July 19, 2013 | Comments
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/30be

This past Wednesday, Floodgate creator Mike Maples gave his keynote address at Venture Shift, in which he laid out three components necessary to make a great company.

In the first part of his speech, he outlined two important factors that, if combined, could be used to make a company great. In the second part, he spoke about what it means to think "exponentially" and to use that way of thinking to disrupt the market.

In the the third, and final, part of his keynote, Maples address the issue of competition.

"Exponential outcomes require fundamental advantages," he said.

Most people think that capitalism means "limited resources characterized perfect competition for those resources."

But, according to Maples, is it actually the reverse that is the truth.

"True capitalism and competition are opposites," he said. "A real capitalist gathers capital based on their unfair advantage."

This is what Maples calls Jerry’s law, named after the late Grateful Dead frontman: "don’t be the best, be the only."

Over and over in Silicon Valley, Maples said, he had seem the "pitfall of mindless competition," where "mindless following and imitation are endemic."

And the problem is that "perfect competition is not perfect," so you have to invest in people who transcend competition, aka those who are at least in some area "with a defensible long-term advantage."

"The distribution strategy is usual congruent with the advantage," he said.

To sum up the speech, he made it clear that Moore's Law and the Power Law are the most important aspects of running a successful company.

"All that matters is 'Can I create one of the truly great outcomes of the year?' That's all there is. It doesn't matter what other deals are getting funded. It doesn't even matter if they're getting funded overpriced. It doesn't matter if there's a Series A crunch. It doesn't matter if there's seed overflow."

"I think that when entrepreneurs lose track of that, when they do entrepreneurship rather than really try to apply a first principle idea to be one of the very best, that’s when they spin their wheels and get off track."


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Mike Maples
Managing Partner,
Floodgate

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