The Uber focus: How million dollar ideas become billion dollar companies

The Uber focus: How million dollar ideas become billion dollar companies

Lorena Thierry – May 25, 2015

While most people usually have "a million dollars" ideas throughout their life, what is it that makes some of these successful and others not?


Lately, international transportation service company, Uber, has made headlines. Different groups of drivers have openly declared war to them, however, users of this “app”, have shown their support and stated categorically that Uber Stays (#UberSeQueda).

Uber, like many other successful companies, was born of a daily experience of two entrepreneurs: Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, who after celebrating Christmas, spent 800 USD in a car with a driver who returned them to their respective homes. After cooking the idea and getting support from investors such as Goldman Sachs and Google, today, Uber is positioned as the leading company of “private taxis”.

Uber is a success story of the now famous “entrepreneurship” and, as its founders there are millions of young (and not so young) people seeking to position their ideas into a market and generate new business challenges. While most people usually have “a million dollars” ideas throughout their life, what is it that makes some of these successful and others not? I dare to say that is to differentiate these six components:

  • Innovation vs Creativity
  • Tenacity vs Persistence
  • Customer Focus vs Focus on business

Many of us confuse creativity with innovation and though the first can easily lead to the second, this is not a rule.

A creative person is one who can create or constantly produce new ideas, whom can also easily imagine and play with them. Cerebrally speaking, the right hemisphere of these people is highly developed and is active all the time. The innovative profile is almost identical, however, has a crucial element creative profile lacks: its implementation capacity. The innovator is able to bring all those dreams to reality, thinking in terms of return on investment and focusing on results. These people use both brain hemispheres, as they are creators, but never leave logic aside. Bringing good ideas to solutions and results is a crucial factor for success, so you must balance your awake dreaming with putting your feet back on the ground.

Once you find the way to implement any of your ideas and transform them into something real, the next step is to be persistent, is not it? Maybe so, but what we want is not primarily persistence or insistence, but tenacity.

A persistent person will endeavour to do the same again and again until his or her idea work, regardless of the difficulties presented to it, he or she will fight to make that original idea accepted, sold and/or promoted. Surely you are wondering, so what’s wrong? The answer is nothing; as long as the person counts with a high level of tenacity.

Tenacity will allow you to take past performance, make appropriate modifications to your ideas and make decisions to find new ways to reach your target, leaving behind the methods that did not work.

The difference between being persistent and tenacious is very subtle, however, the gap in achieving the target can be huge.

Last but not least, we have customer and business focus. Once you have landed your idea, thought of a way to implement it, made changes as you progressed and succeeded, you need to focus your attention on something new, but what?

Imagine that you have developed an “app”, and like that of Kalanick and Camp, is used to request transportation service. When users rate your app, they leave a list of reviews asking you to expand your offer. Notable comments include: installing screens in cars used on long journeys to see movies, offering snacks on trips, including a line of armoured transport, and helicopter service.

You need to be attentive to what your customers are saying, however, it is important to find a middle ground. If you became Santa Claus and complied every one’s, your app probably would end up having thousands of functions, you would lose focus and most likely have financial problems. Conversely, if you did not listen to them and focus only on “keeping the business on”, you would be closing the door to innovation and excluding those that keep your app, so your clients would gradually switch to your competitors app.

The point is to listen to your audience without getting caught up in it, ultimately you are the expert in your business and know how it moves. Every time you need to make a decision, ask yourself: can I do it? Is it really convenient? And analyse the consequences in the short, medium and even long term. Maybe you will meet decisions that seem not to suit in the short term because they require a large investment (like putting screens in cars used for long trips), however, after analysing it, you will discover that in the mid term the number of trips you make with your app has increased. On the other hand, there will be decisions that appear to be appropriate in the short term, such as the line of armoured transport, which can be charged as a premium. But in the long term, you will fall into account that very few customers actually require this service and even if its price is high, maintenance is much more.

Here are some features that differentiate entrepreneurs who are able to achieve success from those who cannot; those who are creative and innovative, that are persistent but also tenacious, and still manage to create a balance between focus on its customers without neglecting their business.

Maybe it is time to ask yourself, whether you are an entrepreneur or not, if you are doing things the right way, for which you simply need answer the following three questions:

  1. Can I land my dreams to reality and turn them into action?
  2. Am I able to learn from my mistakes and make decisions accordingly?
  3. Am I able to listen to my clients and stay objective in making decisions that affect my business and vice versa?

Good luck.