EVEN WIN­NERS MAKE MIS­TAKES

The Jewish Chronicle - - FEATURES -

ATAPAX,we turned down the op­por­tu­nity to in­vest in the busi­ness of the do­mes­tic-ap­pli­ance en­tre­pre­neur James Dyson.

Dyson be­came a huge suc­cess. By 2005,his com­pany had grown to £400 mil­lion of sales and £100 mil­lion of pre-tax prof­its.

It was clear when he came to us that he per­son­ally had many of the key en­tre­pre­neur­ial qual­i­ties. We thought, how­ever, that he was tak­ing on some­thing that was ex­tremely dif­fi­cult: to chal­lenge the mas­sive in­cum­bents — Hoover, Miele, AEG, Elec­trolux and Bosch — in the ma­ture mar­ket of do­mes­tic ap­pli­ances; a mar­ket in which there were sig­nif­i­cant bar­ri­ers to en­try, not least in terms of the costs of prod­uct de­vel­op­ment, man­u­fac­tur­ing, dis­tri­bu­tion, mar­ket­ing, and of brand aware­ness.

What is more, Dyson was not in­tend­ing to com­pete on price; he aimed to com­pete on de­sign and tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion.

We thought the chances of suc­cess were small. In this, we made a mis­take.

We un­der­es­ti­mated the ef­fec­tive­ness of Dyson’s mar­ket­ing as much as we un­der­es­ti­mated the de­sign ap­peal and ef­fi­ciency of his prod­ucts.

Most of all, we un­der­es­ti­mated Dyson him­self. He made the dif­fer­ence.

It is al­ways good to be re­minded that just be­cause some­thing is un­likely to hap­pen it does not mean that it will not hap­pen.Even low-prob­a­bil­ity events, by def­i­ni­tion, do oc­cur.

Just be­cause James Dyson’s busi­ness ven­ture seemed to us to have a low prob­a­bil­ity of suc­cess did not mean that it would not be suc­cess­ful.

by Ron­ald Co­hen, pub­lished by Wei­den­feld & Ni­col­son on Novem­ber 8 at £20. JC read­ers may or­der copies for the spe­cial price of £18 in­clud­ing free postage & pack­ing (UK only, over­seas add £1.60) by call­ing 01903 828 503 and quot­ing ref­er­ence no: JA200 © Ron­ald Co­hen 2007. Ex­tracted from The Sec­ond Bounce of the Ball: Turn­ing Risk into Op­por­tu­nity,

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