An awesome vision doesn’t magically save a broken brand, but it’s at the core of every great one.
Last week, we wrote a post about Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle, exploring how you should start by selling your vision, and not your products.
Your vision has a fundamental role in shaping your company. It reminds you of what to focus on when you wake up every morning and forms the basis of your pitch when you’re sharing your products with your customers.
It goes deeper than that. It affects how you carry yourself, and how you make decisions. It affects the quality of people who want to work for you, which is probably the ultimate game-changer.
So… how do you figure out what yours is?
Here are 10 startups with great visions that we really liked:
1. Asana‘s mission statement: to help humanity thrive by enabling all teams to work together effortlessly.
“Why build Asana? Because it sucks to waste unnecessary time trying to communicate instead of getting work done.”
Asana is a teamwork communication manager that provides workspaces, projects, deadlines, comments that update in real-time, without the use of emails.
Their mission is extremely clear from their webpage, where they stress how “everyone knows what they should be doing…and why” through their program.
Their mission works for a few reasons.
Firstly, it is clear and to the point – reflecting the purpose of their app, which is to make sure everyone’s responsibilities are clear and well-communicated, effortlessly.
Secondly, it is a mission that people want to believe in. Everyone wants a coherent workplace that works together seamlessly.
Workers are inspired to practice what the company preaches, while customers hope to be able to achieve the ideal Asana strives for.
The lesson to learn: Make sure your mission is clear, and something that everyone wants to achieve as well.
2. Uber’s mission statement: “Transportation as reliable as running water, everywhere for everyone.”
“Why build Uber? Because it sucks to be stranded without easy access to reliable transportation.”
The Uber app connects passengers with either driver of vehicles for hire or ride-sharing services in several cities around the world.
Their core mission was simple. Provide a crowd-sourced solution to the issue of overpriced, hard-to-find taxis, and revolutionise the unwieldy and monopolised taxi industry.
They have been true to their mission – the app has revolutionised (some say, destroyed) the taxi industry, plugging the huge demand for more transport options especially in major cities.
But perhaps the biggest message from Uber is the idea of choice. The tagline on their website focuses on you – “Get there – your day belongs to you.”
The autonomy that Uber provides, whether from choosing what type of Uber you want to take (UberX, UberExec, UberTaxi..), to even what music to play in your cab (from their collaboration with Spotify) is motivated by their desire to give the power of choice to their customers.
Details like these help make Uber become a brand that stands out.
The lesson to learn: Solve an issue plaguing an industry, and walk the talk – if you’re going to put something in your mission, make sure you deliver.
Further reading: Want to explode your sales just as Uber has? If so, check out our case study on Uber here.
3. Bellroy‘s mission statement: to slim your wallet – because clunky, fat wallets are just wrong.
“Why build Bellroy? Because a fat wallet is literally a pain-in-the-a**.”
Bellroy makes a diverse range of leather wallets that fit all kinds of requirements and settings.
They started by identifying a problem: wallets that were fat, unwieldy, and generally unpleasant.
The solution? To create wallets that are slim as can be, that also allows “your pocket contents to adapt along with you”.
From innovative solutions like taking out extra leather, to having hidden pockets and tighter pouches, their products are the perfect solution to fixing your fat-wallet woes. They make this particularly attractive by offering a multitude of wallet choices to suit any of your needs.
With such a strong vision and compelling solutions, it’s definitely tempting to #slimyourwallet with Bellroy.
The lesson to learn: Even if your problem might be something small, convince people that it matters by providing an easy, sleek solution.
Fun fact? Bellroy has a travel wallet that comes with a micro pen, for filling out those “pesky customs cards”:
4. Vibease‘s mission statement: to see a world where women can have orgasms as much as men do.
“Why build Vibease? Because people are lonely when they don’t have to be.”
Vibease is a hands-free, Bluetooth-enabled vibrator with a mobile app that vibrates in sync with their chosen audio fantasies. Vibease met its $15,000 fundraising target within 24 hours, and has now been developed into a full-fledged product!
Vibease started off as a movement to make “every modern woman’s fantasy come to life”.
From this vision, they created a product with female sexuality wellness in mind. By using a mobile app, the user can sync it to an audio fantasy or their partner, and it can be even customised.
It was so successful because it solved the problem of generic vibrators. Most vibrators are designed from a men’s point of view and neglect the fact that women react differently to sensations than men.
The lesson to learn: Your mission should be directly catered to your audience’s needs – even better if it’s the first of it’s kind!
5. GoldieBlox‘s mission statement: to correct the gender imbalance in engineering.
“Why build GoldieBlox? Because girls are discouraged from building things, and we need to change that.”
GoldieBlox creates toys for girls. Why does that matter? Because these aren’t just ordinary toys– they’re really engineering tools.
Created by CEO Debbie Sterling, she was motivated by how few women there were in her Mechanical Engineering/Product Design program at Stanford. She became obsessed with the notion of “disrupting the pink aisle” with a toy that would introduce girls to the joy of engineering at a young age.
GoldieBlox successfully raised $150,000 in just 4 days, illustrating the successful pull off her vision.
Why was it so successful? It was for a cause many people were passionate about. The Science and Technology industry has a well-known problem of lacking females, which was a problem GoldieBlox wanted to solve.
By providing building toys for girls, and giving them a heroine to look up to apart from Barbie, GoldieBlox wants to empower females and encourage them to become engineers as well.
The lesson to learn: The most powerful visions are sometimes the ones that organically come out from a personal cause.
6. Airbnb‘s mission statement: to connect millions of people in real life all over the world, through a community marketplace– so that you can Belong Anywhere.
“Why build Airbnb? Because travelling could and should be so much more intimate than staying at hotels.”
Airbnb provides a platform for individuals to rent out their lodging for travellers to stay.
Their vision is to create a world where everyone gets to mingle, and connect with people of various cultures and backgrounds via travel – whether you are in Kuala Lumpur or Cuba, you will be able to Belong Anywhere.
Airbnb fundamentally solves three problems: 1. having a spare room(s) in your house, 2. having to pay too much for hotel rooms, 3. getting a local and authentic experience
By creating an online platform where travellers can rent a spare room from an Airbnb host, it allows people to interact in a way they previously couldn’t.
People can rent anything from a couch to a castle in 8000 cities around the world, and while you’re staying in someone else’s home, you are essentially immersed in the local life!
The lesson to learn: Travelers demand authentic and new experiences, which Airbnb has tapped on perfectly. Make sure to tap on what your customers really want, and angle your product and vision to fulfill that need.
7. PK Clean‘s mission statement: To end landfilling and create a clean & secure new energy source, for a more sustainable world.
“Why build PK Clean? Because the future can’t be a giant landfill.”
PK Clean converts plastic waste into reusable oil.
Founded by Stanford and MIT graduate Priyanka Bakaya and Chemical Engineering Ph.D. Benjamin Coates, PK Clean plants use a process known as catalytic depolymerization to convert plastic waste into fuel.
Their simple mission – to end landfilled wasted forever.
Their mission solves the issue of running out of landfill space, by converting waste into something useful. It is also for an immensely important and good cause that many people believe in, and the solution it provides is clear and sustainable. Their daring attitude when dealing with a mammoth issue like landfills allowed them to earn a spot on Inc’s Top 25 Audacious Companies.
PK Clean plans to make their processing plants as affordable and widely available as possible. They plan to eventually sell and distribute their plants to major corporations and waste management companies worldwide.
Companies like PK Clean are what our world sorely needs.
The lesson to learn: Some problems are better-tackled head-on. Have a daring mission, and you might be rewarded by people who are inspired by your work.
Fun fact? The initials “PK” stand for Percy Kean, an extended member of her family, who once showed her oil that he had converted from waste. As oil prices increased, she remembered his ideas and decided to work on making them a commercial reality.
8. Ministry of Supply‘s mission statement: that clothing should be an extension of your body, equipping you to realize your limitless potential.
“Why build Ministry of Supply? Because officewear shouldn’t have to be uncomfortable.”
Ministry of Supply inspires confidence in every man by creating next-generation performance professional attire.
When people think about office attire, thoughts associated with it are often along the lines of “boring”, “uncomfortable”, “stiff” and “can’t we do casual Fridays every day?”
Ministry of Supply aims to solve this exact problem. Their mission? To use “research and science to create professional essentials that perform”.
By using NASA spacesuit technology to manage heat, moisture, and even odor control, they are able to create truly wearable, yet professional outfits.
The lesson to learn: Quality over quantity is often a good mission to have, as long as you ensure that you can deliver the quality sustainably.
9. Kurgo‘s mission statement: to help people get out & safely enjoy the world with their dogs.
“Why build Kurgo? Because dogs and their humans shouldn’t be limited by their accessories.”
Kurgo sells a variety of dog travel accessories, such as leashes, carriers, beds, etc.
Kurgo focuses on creating dog travel accessories that are affordable and have the customer and dog at heart. They believe in earning lifetime customers and thus provide lifetime guarantees. They also ensure that their products are rigorously tested to be safe in their respective functions.
In contrast to brands that seem more interested in earning money from dog owners, Kurgo’s love for dogs is evident all over their site. Kurgo works for hand in hand with the Kurgo Foundation, which supports “non-profits assisting animals in the wake of disaster”. Kurgo also collaborates with many local and national non-profit organisations that are “working hard to give humans a positive chance at life”.
This vision of caring for the Dog first helps Kurgo to differentiate themselves from other companies and maintain loyal fans.
The lesson to learn: Whether you’re dealing with humans or even dogs, make sure that the customer’s safety and wants are an inherent part of your mission.
Fun fact: Founded by two brothers, Gordie and Kitter Spater, Kurgo’s story began with their 70lb hyperactive Plot Hound mix, Zelda. It was always jumping from its car seat, so they began to design a backseat barrier, which eventually leads to the founding of Kurgo.
10. Warby Parker‘s mission statement: a world where everyone can see clearly, stylishly, and at affordable prices.
“Why build Warby Parker? Because stylish eyewear shouldn’t have to cost an arm and leg.”
Warby Parker sells affordable and stylish eyewear that are designed in-house in their online store.
Warby Parker was founded as “an alternative to the overpriced and bland eyewear available today”. The eyewear industry was dominated by a few large corporations that forced consumers to pay high prices.
Warby Parker decided to compete by cutting out the middlemen, using in-house designers, and selling everything online. This leaner model allows them to sell quality eyewear for less than half the price of other brands.
Take a look at the price comparison graph and observe how Warby Parker has shaken up the entire eyewear industry:
In addition to battling the eyewear giants, Warby Parker is also passionate about helping the less fortunate see. One billion people worldwide do not have access to glasses, and Warby Parker is determined to change that. They partner with non-profit organisations like VisionSpring, distributing one pair of glasses for every pair sold.
Learn more about Warby Parker’s marketing chops here: How Warby Parker Rose To Prominence Using Storytelling And Remarkable Experiences (8+ Examples).
The lesson to learn: An underdog story and a social cause often tell very powerful stories and create very meaningful visions.
Fun fact? They crafted their own monocle, called the “Colonel Monocle”. Warby Parker states that it’s the “perfect accessory for budding robber barons, post-colonial tyrants, and super villains”.
How do you apply these examples to your brand, then?
After looking through the examples, you might want to ask yourself a few questions:
- What problem am I trying to solve with my product?
- Is it a problem people care about? If no, how do I make them care about it?
- How can I show that my product is the best solution to this problem?
Ultimately, why should people care about your product?
Using those questions as guides, craft a strong and meaningful vision that you, your workers, and your customers will believe in.
Make sure that vision is consistently communicated and apparent in every aspect of the design of your product.
Ultimately, as Sinek puts it,
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”