From A Startup To An Empire: Building Era Defining Companies

Can you imagine the web without Wordpress? Youtube? Google?

startup to an empire

There are only a few companies without which we can’t envision our worlds.

Can you imagine the web without WordPress? Youtube? Google?

So I’m going to write my thoughts on this as this has been the major topic of conversation among our incubator members.

We are going to stick to the web-based businesses here to narrow our study

Over the period of several years, I’ve constantly focused my attention on bootstrapping and bringing in profits almost every single day in our businesses. 

Every once in a while, an entrepreneur comes along with an amazing execution of an idea and with gradual improvements to it, he builds a community around that idea.

And THAT community does most of the heavy lifting of taking that idea and spreading it like wildfire, resulting in the world that we can’t envision without that idea as a result.

Very few entrepreneurs have done that.

That’s how great companies are built. 

It’s All About Communities Around Ideas

These communities of true fans are one of the foundational prerequisites for building an empire via an idea and its proper execution.

The community helps improve it, spread it and defends it from the critics. This community of fans, customers and early users are vital for a company. And you cannot abuse your way to the domination, proper nurturing of the community is extremely important.

The community will take your product and make it a part of their lives at a much deeper level, that it might become a verb for them.

“Why don’t you google it!”

“So you youtube it”

“I’m gonna go home and Netflix that movie”

There are some examples of creating a community centered products that have done really well but haven’t bought much value to the table.

For example, Facebook.

People might say the company changed the world, but it is nothing but a really nice execution of several ideas that have existed before and the entire purpose is building a community.

We CAN envision our world without Facebook, but not WordPress or Google.

That is not to say that it is a bad product.

But the point is that Facebook is an amazing example of the power of communities and early fans and what they can do to take your company from a startup to an empire.

Understanding herd psychology is vital if you wanna start getting people on board.

  • What do they like?
  • What do they think about the most about your idea?
  • What do they dislike the most about the idea?
  • Why should they trust you?
  • What’s in it for them?
  • What’s in it for them if they actively join your movement and community?
  • Why should they invite others to the community?
  • What are their deepest desire?


Case Study: Oculus

A great example here is: Oculus

It started as a revolution in VR, they started by bringing an idea and demonstrated that they have what it takes to properly executed an idea well existed as the deepest desire in a core gamer’s heart.

They slowly started building that community

They cared about the execution

They cared about spreading the idea of VR being mainstream instead of selling too many units of their products

As a result, people got on board with their idea and helped them get there.

Industry leaders like John Carmack joined them too.

Though Valve and HTC kinda kicked them in the nuts with their execution of the same idea. But it helped what the community cared for – making it mainstream


Case Study: Tesla

The same philosophy as Oculus – spreading an idea through execution and building a community around it.

They achieved their goal through brilliant execution even after the fact that they’re losing money, which I’ll get to in a moment.

The tesla community of one of the most hardcore fans I’ve seen out there. They’ll go as far as buying the car despite it being their most expensive purchase, as well as buying its shares.

They’ve changed the electric car landscape to a degree where we all can envision every car on the entire planet being electric in a decade or two.

Though I confess while I deeply admire the company, I made a lot from shorting its stock in 2015.


Case Study: Automattic

I cannot envision the web without WordPress.

They could’ve been a massive company with over $100 billion valuation, but they chose to be the community first company with their open source free to use CMS that we all use.

I’m a proud member of this community and I admire, respect and appreciate what they’ve done for me, my business and my clients.

They’ve built this company by putting profits aside and creating a community first – force of change.

However, what made them successful is the excellence of execution. Without this, you’re not serving your community well.


There are several companies that I can talk about here, with a community-centric product philosophy which as a result changed the entire world.

Google being one, youtube being another one, Valve with Steam, Reddit and so many more…

These companies started by building a community around it and using it as a leverage to push their execution of that idea as being the best product in their respected field or niche.


However, keep in mind that it is an idea and an execution of that idea with the followers backing the philosophy behind it that creates a change.

There are several examples of movements that have done the same for example: Bitcoin movement, P2P movement and many more.

It’s NOT About The Money

Money is important and essential for a product to evolve.

But in many early stages when you’re introducing your execution of the idea you believe in, bringing money in could be a barrier for attracting the community, which is why a lot of these community centric businesses or startups don’t make much or anything at all in their early stages like Automattic, Facebook or Google.

This is to make sure that the product can evolve properly to the point where it evolves into a verb from a noun.

Once that is done, gradual monetization helps everyone in the picture get rich.

However, that’s not what its all about.

Because building this kinda business is extremely hard and breaks the best of us.

So if your intention is to become a billionaire via this approach, then you’re in the wrong business.

Building an era-defining company is something that breaks the best of us entrepreneurs. It’s the end goal and the community that helps us keep on going, walking on broken glass carrying the load on our backs, on an infinite mile long and winding road.

It is us entrepreneurs, who define how the world of tomorrow will look like, not politicians, celebrities or one of those fancy people we read about in the magazines.

Wayne Harrel is the founder of Zielix® Incubator, Hudson Lockwood Capital Partners and I Fired Wall Street trader's community. Wayne like video games, technology and is a productivity freak.

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