OSD 161: Product over everything
Culture is upstream of politics. Product is upstream of culture.
In 2012, Peter Rahal was prototyping RXBAR — the company he’d sell to Kellogg’s six years later for $600 million — in his parents’ kitchen and dreaming big. Maybe a little too big:
I remember distinctly early in my business when I was asking my dad about all the investor money I needed to fulfill my vision for RXBAR. He told me very directly, “You need to shut up and sell 1,000 bars.”
You can think whatever you want about your product, but the only thing that determines your success is what customers do. A sale means that your product is good enough that somebody decided it’s worth the money that they worked to earn.
The entrepreneur Jason Fried puts it like this:
… paying for something is one of the most intimate things that can occur between two people. One person is offering something for sale, and the other person is spending hard-earned cash to buy it. Both have worked hard to be able to offer the other something he or she wants. That’s trust — and, dare I say, intimacy. For customers, paying for something sets a high expectation.
When you put a price on something, you get really honest feedback from customers. When entrepreneurs ask me how to get customers to tell us what they really think, I respond with two words: Charge them. They’ll tell you what they think, demand excellence, and take the product seriously in a way they never would if they were just using it for free.
As an entrepreneur, you should welcome that pressure. You should want to be forced to be good at what you do.
Gun laws matter, but the reason they matter is that they block access to products people want. That means that fundamentally, gun rights are a project for founders, not legislators.
Think of the most recent person who you helped get into guns. Think about all the questions they asked you, which gear you steered them towards or away from, all the extremely-basic-and-yet-non-obvious questions they had (“Wait what do you mean that ‘9mm’ can actually refer to several dozen different kinds of ammo?”). Even a task as simple as picking a holster. Without you, would they have gotten as far down the rabbit hole? Would they even have started?
Products in this industry have never been better (see more in “OSD 145: Guns, Andy Warhol, and Coca-Cola”). But it’s still an industry for hobbyists. Analogizing to computers, it’s 1975. The energy is high, Altair Basic just came out, and the Apple I is just around the corner. That is awesome. But it also means that 99.99% of the value that is going to be created hasn’t been created yet. This is the time to create it.
This week’s links
Unorthodox and persuasive ergonomic/tactical concepts from Rhett Neumayer. Rhett is probably best known for his advocacy of the cheek pistol concept. Chris Baker from Lucky Gunner describes him as a tactical mad scientist.
A good example of by-a-woman-for-women CCW content, which it’s great to see more and more of.
Visually compare the dimensions and weight of any two pistols you can think of. Pretty handy.
The Reload reporting on a court ruling out of Rhode Island.
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