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October 1, 2021

I was talking about sales with a startup, and we started discussing the very important topic of innovating on distribution.

Many startups don't seize this opportunity. In the beginning, the most natural starting point for a startup is to innovate with a new product or tech that solves a problem in a new way. Typically, that is the part that gets you fired up to start a business. But there is much more to innovation and disruption than that. A startup has the opportunity to question every single habit in an industry and to question how it can be done differently. That can be distribution, company culture, or financing.

Founders who come from the industry themselves often have a head start in terms of understanding the customer. However, there's also a downside to coming from the industry: founders with industry experience sometimes need to push themselves to rethink every part of the business, as they have an idea of how all things are done based on their previous experience. Founders who do not come from the industry have an easier time starting fresh.

As a startup grows, if it does well, it can over time bring on big names from the industry into management. In the same way, this can be great but can also mean a convergence towards the industry norm in terms of how most things are done.

If the founders are not cautious and taking the time to think about all opportunities to innovate, many parts of the business may be unnecessarily left untouched.