Chief Executive magazine has an article about Bose Corp.. It is the year of the celebrity CEO - first there was Steve Jobs (well there is always Steve Jobs), then there was Carly Fiorina (celeb status goes both ways). Now it is Amar Bose. Bose Corp. stands alone among other privately held companies. That is because, usually high tech companies need infusions of large capital - something that Bose Corp. has managed without. There are several large privately held conglomerates - Trump Real Estate, Virgin, etc. But all of these companies are in businesses which can do with a few hundred thousand of seed capital. As in, most of these companies are marketing based companies - you promise a buyer a few thousand feet of real estate, you go and find it cheap and you make a killing. But in high-tech you have an initial development time which guzzles money without a possible conclusion. Q. How then do you do it?
A. By piggy-back riding on govt. money Take Bose Corp. for instance - research that stemmed out of university research went on to become Bose Corp. Dr. Amar Bose’s doctoral thesis was on complex variable theory, which was sidelined for the purpose of acoustic theory: a feat possible only by using the resources of the university. Then there is the exclusivity aspect - not from the aspect of the serious audiophile. Nope, they would rather die than buy a Bose rig. It’s custom, hand-built all the way for them. Exclusivity as an image projected for the housewife, the yuppie, the maitre’d. All of whom listen to music for say 2-3 hours a day. An illusion of exclusivity created by its resellers who are banned from ever comparing Bose with other competing products and who must provide Bose sound systems with their own exclusive space on the shop floor. Bose Systems are packaged brilliantly and though they may not actually work as well as the audiophile wants, it works and more importantly, looks good enough for me. Why is this relevant to the original issue? Because Bose Corp. is again pulling the same rabbit out of its hat. Marketing a 24 year research in progress. Now who would’nt be interested in a research that spans 24 years. I would buy a car that has a suspension system backed by 24 years of research. Oh and just in case I worked for the competitor, I would be scared..very very scared. Its really very simple - to create sex appeal for technology, it must appeal to women and early adopters. These are what are called the hubs of social networks. Appeal to them and you have planted the seeds that will sprout everywhere. Is it any surprise that no journalists have been allowed to sit in these cars. You have got to maintain the sex appeal till its too late for technology journals to pan them. Because you can always pay one of them to write good about you. For a wannabe entrepreneur like me, it is an important lesson. I would like to be the carefree CEO who has no obligations to investors. But I do not think that is very easy. But it is entirely another matter to create an aura of charisma around your company and around yourself.