There was once a small, innovative company who was first in their field. They had built a product out of an idea, a spark of something that would change the world. Before beginning, they offered it to other companies, who rebuked and called them “crazy”. They go on to build the product and sell millions of it despite originally being told their was no market for it.
The competitors were wrong and quickly began to see the error of their ways. They rushed to enter the market. And what did the small, innovative company do? They ran an ad welcoming the competitor(s).
For those who know the history of computers and advertisement around it, you might be thinking the small, innovative company is Apple, known at the time of their ad as Apple Computer. In August 1981, Apple ran a full-page newspaper ad titled “Welcome IBM. Seriously.” when IBM entered the marketplace with a personal computer. The ad was tongue-in-cheek and probably meant to scoff IBM’s lack of vision for completely missing this revolution coming.
If you thought it was Apple, you are correct. But only partially correct. It appears another company has decided to take this same approach. If you have read a running or fitness magazine or website, you have probably probably already seen this ad. A small, innovative company is once again welcoming their competitors to the market.
More than 30 years since the original ad, Vibram has decided to embrace nostalgia and run a very similar ad. (Either that or their agency has just ran out of ideas.) For those that don’t know, Vibram introduced the running world to its FiveFingers shoes in 2005. In doing so, Vibram was part of the revolution that started the minimalist running movement. Minimalist shoes have removed (or significantly reduced) the thick, cushioned sole and designed a shoe this returns runners, like me, to being as close to barefoot as possible. The heel lift is nearly non-existent.
The similarities of the Apple and Vibram ads are striking to me. When I first saw the Vibram ad, I was instantly reminded of the Apple one. Some quick similarities on first glance:
I truly wonder if Vibram considers itself the Apple of the shoe world. One look at the FiveFingers website and the words “It [Vibram FiveFingers] bucks tradition and makes people think differently.” pop out.
As a consumer of both Apple and Vibram, this ad has never spoken to me. Perhaps it does others.
The past few years in Saint Louis have been interesting to watch. When Craig and I started the parent company of Contegix as a software development and managed hosting company, there were very few entrepreneurs doing anything here, especially in the tech industry.
In fact, Gabe Lozano from LockerDome and I were chatting about this a few weeks back. Gabe has built an amazing company that continues to excel and grow. He also comes from an entrepreneurial family. His father started Paylinx, a company later acquired by Cybersource, and Appistry, a big data company that started when no one knew what that meant. As Gabe recently put it to me, “There were guys like my dad starting companies from his generation. Then, the younger guys like me began starting companies a few years ago. But almost nothing in your generation .”
With this said, it’s been absolutely incredible to see the proliferation of tech entrepreneurs pop up. Some of them have already exited and gone on to other things. Just as important is that the entrepreneurs are from every generation – Gabe’s, mine, and older. Here are a few that I think are worth spotlighting:
Description:LockerDome is a person’s sports identity. LockerDome is the only platform where professional athletes publish their content side-by-side with kids. LockerDome developed the first universal identification system for tracking youth sports content. With a LockerDome ID, an athlete’s sports memories are accessible in one place, forever.
Recent News:LockerDome recently completed a $750k round in December 2011 and added Jim McKelvey to the Board in January 2012.
Description:Gremln is a premiere social media marketing toolkit designed to help businesses take control of their social media messages and measure the impact those messages are having on potential customers. Gremln allows users to post messages to their major social networks and tracks the amount of social engagement these messages attract. Gremln users can create quick and easy charts, graphs, and reports to monitor their social progress while maintaining brand integrity across various digital channels.
Recent News: Gremln recently completed Capital Innovators and was in a ReadWriteWeb article.
Bonfyre / OffCampus Media (http://bonfyreapp.com):
Description:Bonfyre is a geo-location app and social media network strictly for college students. Users can only register with a valid school email address from an approved university.
Comment:One of the things I LOVE about Bonfyre is that it allows college students to socialize online without their parents or future employer sniffing around. We like enough to invest in it.
Recent News: Bonfyre raised $750k in capital funding. Newest version released this month.
Description:Aisle411 is a smartphone app that allows users to navigate inside stores and guides them to the exact location of a product. For example, a user can enter a grocery list and get a map that takes them to all of the products on the list in the most efficient way.
Recent News: Has raised over $5.5M and recently opened a San Francisco office.
Description:NorseCorp is an emerging provider of innovative Internet security intelligence for all industry verticals. Via our patent-pending IPViking platform, NorseCorp provide real-time intelligence about the most dangerous IP addresses operating in the world at any given time.
Recent News: In April 2012, Norse released it’s nGate Payment Gateway – article.
Description:Before cloud was even a word printed anywhere except textbooks and meteorological reports, Slicehost was serving up cloud servers to hungry developers and startups. Created by Jason Seats and Matt Tanase, Slicehost was an early and strong player in this community. Slicehost was acquired by Rackspace around October 2008. I think it’s still worth mentioning Slicehost as they were part of this renaissance and change here.
Recent News: Matt has gone on to build another startup, DevStructure.
And this is only the beginning. It also doesn’t acknowledge the companies, like World Wide Technology, which have been here all along.