Survivorship Bias, Entrepreneurship and The Myth Of Becoming Successful

  • Follow what you love, Follow your intuition and heart, Don’t do it for the money, Be Passionate, Build around customers, Network, Say no to 1000 things, Prioritize, Sell dreams, Demand great work from people around you, Never stop innovating, Believe in yourself, Perseverance and so on.
  • From his childhood, Steve Jobs’ parents had implanted the idea that he was a special kid and destined for greatness. They encouraged him to be self-reliant and independent. The research shows that a child who feels independent would develop a belief he or she could compete at any level.
  • While working, Paul Jobs(Steve’s father) kept Steve near him and explained everything. He encouraged Steve to work on whatever he liked, alongside him. He was an automobile mechanic and he gave the first exposure on electronics to Steve Jobs by introducing automobile electronics. He trained him to appreciate the car’s aesthetics. He also taught him the importance of clean design and the importance of hiding screw heads while crafting wooden cabinets.
  • The houses in Jobs’ neighbourhood were built by Joseph Eichler who was famous for simple, elegant, beautiful, functional and unique design at an affordable cost. Eichler continues to inspire many to this date. Steve Jobs had a deep appreciation for him.
  • Jobs’ childhood house was in Silicon Valley -The people there inhaled and exhaled electronics. The place is a hotbed of startups and innovation. A lot of electronic engineers, video game designers stayed there. A good number of electronics firms, microchip manufacturers, and computer companies were located there. It was a wonderful place to grow up. NASA Ames Research Centre was not far from where Jobs lived. Steve saw his first independent computer at this Ames research centre at the age of 10–11.
  • One of Steve’s childhood neighbours ‘Larry Lange’ was a hardcore electronics engineer, working in HP company. He taught Steve a lot about electronics and helped him to build electronic kits which gave jobs much-needed self-confidence to build products. Larry helped Steve to become a member of HP explorers club, where HP research engineers taught the recent development in electronics and also mentored the kids in that area to do electronic projects. Steve eventually, did an internship at HP at the age of 12. He had exposure to advanced computers at HP R&D centre and spent a considerable amount of time in learning and writing programs for those machines.
  • Steve’s friend Wozniak was almost five years older than him. He had additional years of experience and knowledge in electronics than Jobs. Wozniak’s father was a rocket scientist and he created an environment to help his son learn electronics. Wozniak spent hours reading his father’s electronic journals. By 4th grade, Wozniak was one of ‘especially talented electronic whiz kids’. Francis Wozniak gave Wozniak exposure to computers at an early age. He encouraged his son to build products using sophisticated, modern electronic components of that time.
  • Atari’s founder Nolan Bushnell hired Steve because of his friendship with Wozniak. He considered that Wozniak was a better electronics engineer than Steve Jobs. He gave the challenge of reducing the chips in his game console circuitry board knowing that Steve would take the help of Wozniak. What would have happened if Steve didn’t meet Wozniak? Atari’s games were famous for simple design and user-friendliness which became the hallmark of Apple’s products.
  • During that time, the ‘Silicon Valley’ had a famous magazine called ‘Whole Earth catalogue’ which was a collection of useful information related to computers and was crowdsourced, contributed by readers, hackers, programmers. An offline google of that time. This catalogue inspired many programmers, computer scientists, electronic engineers. Steve Jobs was a fan of the Whole Earth Catalogue. The last page of the final issue of the magazine read “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”.
  • Silicon Valley also had a famous club called ‘The Homebrew Computer Club’, an informal group of electronic enthusiasts and technically minded hobbyists. The club bought computers(Expensive and not affordable for many members) so that its members can study and work on them. It supported its members to build computers. Wozniak got the idea of Apple I at the meetings of this club. When Wozniak built the Apple I computer, Steve sold fifty of those units to Paul Terrell who was also a member of this club.
  • In 1998, Bezos bought Social Networking Service ‘PlanetAll’. While buying the service, Bezos said, “PlanetAll is the most innovative use of the Internet I’ve seen. It’s simply a breakthrough in doing something as fundamental and important as staying in touch. The reason PlanetAll has over 1.5 million members — and is growing even faster than the Internet — is simple: it creates extraordinary value for its users. I believe PlanetAll will prove to be one of the most important online applications." By 2000, Amazon had shut down Planetall.com.
  • Bezos invested a lot of money in drugstore.com and actively promoted the site through Amazon network. Unfortunately, selling drugs online proved to be far more challenging than Jeff Bezos expected, and ended up in another failure.
  • In 1999, Amazon invested in Pets.com and also helped actively in its marketing and promotion but the company went out of business in 2002.
  • Jeff Bezos invested approximately $60 million in Kozmo.com that promised free one-hour delivery of “videos, games, DVDs, music, mags, books, food, basics & more", but the online retailer had to close down its business by 2001.
  • In 1998, Bezos made a major acquisition -Junglee.com, a comparison shopping website and integrated into the Amazon website. Soon, Amazon executives saw that the customers were leaving the site to make the purchases elsewhere. Junglee was closed down after a few months.
  • 1999, Bezos wanted to enter the Toy category and spent $120 million to stock every possible toy before the holiday rush. The company had stumbled and wrote off $39 million in unsold toys.
  • Jeff Bezos started an online jewellery business through Amazon. He boldly went against the conventional wisdom of online retailing and pricing. He was confident that he would disrupt the market. He personally spent a lot of time with designers in designing elegant wooden jewellery boxes. He used celebrities to promote the online concept. He signed contracts with established fashion houses for exclusive selling. He also introduced a feature ‘Diamond Search’ that let customers look for individual stones based on carat, shape and colour. But customers still preferred to go to the stores to pick their jewels. After a few months of trying, Bezos closed down the jewellery business after losing a substantial amount of investment.
  • To counter the threat of eBay, Jeff Bezos started ‘Amazon Auctions’ and it ended up as a non-starter. He also bought Livbid.com which did not add value.
  • He bought a payment firm Accept.com for 101.7 million dollars to exchange money between buyers and sellers in a seamless way but closed down after a few months.
  • Bezos signed a deal with the famous auction house Sotheby’s to focus on high-end products auctioning but the effort ended up in failure.
  • Jeff started zShops — a platform for sellers to operate their own fixed-price shops on Amazon.com but was closed down soon due to the lack of customers.
  • In 2009, Amazon web-pay -a desktop based online payment service was launched and was closed down in 2014.
  • In 2007, Amazon introduced Askville.com, an information-sharing site similar to Quora, but ended up as a failure and was closed down in 2013.
  • In 2011, Amazon launched fashion flash sale site MyHabit, but the site was closed down in 2016.
  • Bezos bought altavista.com but that failed to offer any value to Amazon.com. He invested heavily to build a search engine to compete Google.com and then finally, after years of investment and burning so much money, he dropped the idea.
  • Similar to Google’s ‘Streetview’ Amazon tried ‘Blockview’, street-level photographs of stores and restaurants but became another failed experiment.
  • In early 2000, Jeff Bezos personally invested in a company ‘Cambrian Ventures’ -The company wanted to build a software and harness the internet to coordinate groups of people around the world to work on problems that computers weren’t good at solving. By 2003, the company was shut down as they did not know how to make money.
  • By 2003, Amazon was fairly successful in selling music over the web. During that time, Jobs offered him a partnership opportunity but he refused it. Bezos dismissed iTunes, noting that selling single-tracks for ninety-nine cents each wasn’t profitable and that Apple’s goal was only to increase sales of the iPod. Amazon slowly lost its music business.
  • On seeing the success of Zappos, Bezos decided to build an entirely separate website for shoes and handbags. He spent $30 million and launched the site ‘Endless.com’ in December 2006. The site offered free overnight shipping and free returns as a launch offer. But there was almost no traffic or sales for many months. Amazon had to close down the website after facing losses.
  • Seeing the success of Netflix, Bezos opened DVD rental services in the United Kingdom and Germany with the idea that it would learn the rental business and establish its brand in markets where Netflix had not yet entered. But the company failed.
  • Amazon’s acquisitions of OurHouse.com, Joyo.com, BookSurge, Tool Crib of the North, Back to Basics Toys, also ended up in failures.
  • Bezos also invested in Gear.com, Wineshopper.com, Greenlight.com, Home-Grocer.com, Ashford.com, Greg Manning Auctions, Inc, Eziba.com, Daksh.com and ended up in failures.
  • Launched in April 2015, Amazon Destinations was a short-lived travel reservation service focused on short, local getaways. The company stopped selling reservations six months later.
  • Amazon Local Register, Amazon Fire Phone are some of the other costly failures.

CONCLUSION

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Secular Humanist, Business Growth Consultant, Design Thinker, India. Reach me at mmshah8@gmail.com https://www.shahmohammed.com https://www.patreon.com/shahmm

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Shah Mohammed

Shah Mohammed

Secular Humanist, Business Growth Consultant, Design Thinker, India. Reach me at mmshah8@gmail.com https://www.shahmohammed.com https://www.patreon.com/shahmm

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