If you look at the fastest growing companies in the world, especially in the technology sector, you can notice one common theme: they’re all riding a trend. Zuck realised that people will want to stay connected with their friends by spending the least amount of time possible, Andrew Mason spotted that people are willing to join other people in order to get massive discounts, Ev & Biz noticed there are a ton of girls who would like to stalk Ashton Kutcher. In theory, it sounds pretty simple.
However, I think trendspotting is incredibly difficult but pays off massively, if you manage to have the right team and the right product at the right time. Don Valentine, the founder of Sequoia Capital makes a similar point in a speech he had at Stanford a few months ago:
We have always focused on the market: the size, the dynamics and the nature of the competition. Because our objective always was to build big companies. If you don’t attack a big market, it’s highly unlikely you’re ever going to build a big company.I strongly recommend that you watch the entire speech (about 1hr long), when you get a chance:
We don’t care if people went to school or how smart they are. We are interested in their idea about the market, the magnitude of the problem and what can happen if in fact the combination of Sequoia and the individuals are correct.
We don’t choose people, we choose markets. And once we choose a market, we choose the best product in the market.