Last week, to celebrate last few days of 2011, we went to an Ethiopian restaurant named Walia in San Jose. My wife & I took our friends too, who flew from Detroit to visit us. Two weeks earlier, to celebrate my birthday, we had gone to the same restaurant.
I love Ethiopian food. Is Walia the best Ethiopian food? No! Not really. We go to this restaurant, because it is close to my house and more importantly is next to the best Ethiopian restaurant I have ever eaten named Zeni in San Jose. We go to Walia because we don’t want to wait for two hours in line to get into Zeni.
How long was the wait in Walia? Zero! In fact there were many empty tables. The food quality is not bad at all. In fact my wife believes the food in Walia is on par with Zeni, but then why is that Walia does not attract more people? What makes Zeni so special?
Zeni gives an experience of ethiopian culture apart from the good food. It is unique in that it is well decorated in keeping up with the ethiopian culture and traditions. The painting, the live music, the way everyone sits around a large plate and eat from your hand makes Zeni a great experience. Every time we celebrate someone’s birthday or someone’s success, Zeni adds the cherry.
In your business too, the touch of differentiation is very important. Your product could mimic everything that the best product in the market could do, but still fail, unless you have a differentiation.
In one of the most inspirational speeches by Arnold Schwarzenegger, he says that the out-of-the-box thinking separates great person from a common man. Arnold also said that he likes achieving things that everybody says can’t be achieved. Let your products do the unthinkable, unachievable, and be unique. Zeni makes the same products as Walia but the differentiation and uniqueness makes people wait in line for over two hours in cold (no, they do not take reservations!).
Build revolutionary technology products such as putting flash on iPhone, making robots work 10X faster than humans, keeping 300,000 mail boxes safe through pro-active monitoring, deploying SoX compliance, automating eBay auctions, and so on; Fortunately I was part of all of them.