Square brought to market a huge opportunity. Simply put, where anyone, anywhere could turn their mobile phone or pad into a cash register and do business from anywhere including cabs, street vendors, independent stores, and much more. At a hefty fee of 2.75% vendors loved the idea to be able to conduct commerce anywhere at any time. That is magnificent. Walking through a normal street fair, it is wonderful to see ‘technology’ in action and clearly Square is on the right track. In addition, the company’s solid business plan has enabled the company to start off with solid angel funding, followed by serious venture funding to date. Let’s just say, funding has not been nor is it an issue for Square.
However, the recent announcement that not only is Starbucks going to put $25M in Square but also start rolling out Square to 7000 stores is massive news. Starbucks is not only seriously putting skin in the game, but also immediately becomes Square’s largest customer, changing how commerce will be done in the stores, expanding the ability to use mobile credit card payments. This is a major feat by Square to win the trust of a major global player, get investment dollars AND bring on a major revenue customer, all at the same time.
This trio of accomplishments is very rare for startup or newer technology companies. Often strategic relationships are made at the expense of revenue-based relationships, greatly harming the revenue potential of the company. Technology companies can all think in this dimension. Revenue is king.
In addition, Square introduced true disruption as an enhanced innovation to businesses. Let’s face it, had it not been for Apple succeeding with iPhones and iPads, and the Appstore, Square could not play in this game. However, seeing what Apple was doing and the growth, Square jumped in and introduced a cooperative-disruption/innovation (a new idea which I will write more about very soon), and offered an innovation which in and of itself was not exceptional, but the combination with the Apple offerings, made it highly disruptive and innovative. More discussion on this soon…
The point is that to change the world, it is not always necessary to ‘have a unique and unprecedented invention’ but rather an innovation which may combine with other innovations to enable something which can change the world…disrupt and innovate as we talk about in ProVoke. And it is about flawless execution of the innovation. If Square did not work at scale, neither Starbucks or any other global players would co-invest or use the product. This means Square also started with scale and execution in mind.
Imagine how many other Square phenomenons we can have…why don’t we?
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Linda Bernardi is a Technology Strategist, Investor, and Founder & CEO at StraTerra Partners, The Bernardi Leadership Institute and a Strategic Advisor at Cloudant Inc. She is also the Author of Provoke, Why the Global Culture of Disruption is the Only Hope for Innovation. For more information: www.lindabernardi.com