I had the pleasure of attending the Fortune Brainstorm Tech Conference in Aspen this week, both as a presenter and participant. When I wasn’t presenting in the ‘start up idol’ portion of the agenda I had some time to attend a few sessions, and learn from some of the strongest leaders in corporate America.
One session I enjoyed was the "Taking on the goliaths: Competition in a Digital Age" panel, featuring Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO of NVIDIA, Kevin Johnson, CEO, Juniper Networks, and John Lilly, CEO, Mozilla. From the get-go I was intrigued with this panel because it was reminiscent of the situation my company, Badgeville, finds itself in.
Our focus at Badgeville is on increasing user loyalty and engagement for websites, and we do this via status, rank, and reputation. We make the process extremely social, helping build new audiences for our clients, all while running as a typical start-up company, long hours and tight budgets. Our solutions are focused on our target markets, offering the exact sets of capabilities, and delivering specific value propositions. You can consider us the ‘David’ of our industry.
On the other hand, our competitors, the ‘Goliaths,’ having raised significant rounds of capital, position themselves vastly different, offering very broad platforms with lots of features that address different types of applications.
I listened intently as Jen-Hsun talked about life as a "David", albeit a David with $3.7 billion in sales. I guess it’s all relative when you consider NVIDIA competes against Intel, Juniper against Cisco, and Mozilla against Microsoft.
Jen-Hsun went on to say that to beat the "Goliath" in your industry, it’s all about focusing on value, and being customer driven. NVIDIA wouldn't be in business if it didn't identify a target market, bring a unique value proposition, and then deliver exceptionally on that promise.
Even though their Goliath has the reach, the market credibility, access to press, lots of R&D resources, and sales infrastructure, NVIDIA has been able to create die-hard fans in gaming, design, and several different product/market categories with two guiding principles: value and being customer driven.
Jen-Hsun left me inspired to believe that even as a ‘David,’ you can still build a sustainable (and growing) business by focusing on what's important – your customer.