A History of Innovators: To Grow Really Big, Do Something Small Absurdly Well.

Kumar Thangudu

July 12, 2015

Studying Innovation History is fun. 
For the last 20 years, I’ve studied over 1000 inventors and creators. It started with my first shitty invention at the age of 6- an infinite loop solar panel tied to a flashlight and a book given to me by my grandfather about inventors. It grew into a brute force fascination into understanding the mechanics of how inventors and innovators go from zero to X.

Single Functionality as A Starting Point. 
To grow really big as a venture or tech with a lot of reach, do one thing absurdly well for a small group of people.

People Normally Distribute. 
Most groups of people ‘normally distribute’ and for whatever reason, 100 seems to be a statistically significant enough size. If you can make a small group of people super happy, you can usually grow from that.

Some Prime Examples
I chose a few of my favorite stories of founded companies as examples…..

HP started as a company that only makes precision audio oscillators.
Nintendo started off as the best damn playing cards for gangsters.
Motorola made the best battery eliminator for radios.
Coca Cola started as a pharmacists product who laced booze with cocaine.
Sharp started as a pencil making company. They made a really cool pencil called the Ever-ready sharp. I have a poster of it in my home office.
Kotex made the first high fidelity wound dressings for World War 2.
Dow started making potassium bromide and bleach initially.
Toyota started as a handloom company.
Bose’s first loud speaker dispersed 22 small mid-range speakers over an eighth of a sphere and was a commercial failure, followed by the creation of the model 901, in which eight identical mid-range drivers (with electronic equalization) were aimed at the wall behind the speaker while the ninth driver was aimed towards the listener. The pentagonal design was groundbreaking and beautiful engineering. This product feels indistinguishable from Magic.
Johnson & Johnson made the first ready to use surgical dressings after hearing a speech from Joseph Lister, or so it goes.
P&G – Procter and Gamble started as a joint venture to collect fat to make candles+soap.

If you have any other good founding stories, please tweet them to me @datarade.

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