I helped build a Shopify app that 200K+ Shopify users use - and the best Shopify brands never lose focus on making their beer taste better.
No, they didn’t sell beer.
“Focus on what your beer tastes better” is the analogy Jeff Bezos made when pitching AWS at the 2008 Y Combinator Startup School. It was an odd - but cleverly calculated analogy.
The analogy came to Jeff Bezos after he visited a 300-year-old brewery in Luxembourg - which were one of the first factories in Luxembourg that used electric power to help in the beer-manufacturing process. Back then they couldn’t buy electric power off the electric grid because there wasn’t an electric grid - so they started making their own electric power (which is pretty badass by itself). Many other companies also did the same thing - they wanted to make their operations more efficient, and the only way to do so was to become an expert in electric power generation and set up their own generators.
But the tricky thing was: Generating their own electric power didn’t make their beer taste better.
After a while, these breweries realized that making their own electric power was resource-consuming, capital-intensive, and taking a toll on their operational capacity - without making their beer taste any better. And if new shiny technology couldn’t make your beer taste better - then what was it even for? (this is a rhetorical question in the context of beer-making only because electricity was our greatest invention)
And the point Jeff Bezos was making - which was insightful and highly applicable to us eCommerce insiders - is that you don’t need most novel technology to build your product, do marketing, or make sales - you just need the right one.
You want to go from your idea to a successful product as quickly as possible, rightfully so - and there will always be some heavy lifting that gets in the middle between your idea vision and your success. And we often think that this heavy lifting has to be done at a world-class level of excellence, or else your vision will fail.
But this is totally undifferentiated and isn't actually making the beer taste better. We get tunnel vision and deafened by all the noises out there - when 100 products saying 100 different things but they might just be the same (and we might also be guilty of it :) )
This is not to say you shouldn’t install new apps to improve your revenue operation or buy a new tool to help your marketing team - it’s more about not letting them dilute your focus on making your beer taste better. :)
Watch Bezos's full pitch here.