Masters of Scale – Reid Hoffman: 23andMe’s Anne Wojcicki
When Anne Wojcicki co-founded 23andMe, she carved out a brand-new space in personal health — helping people become experts on their bodies right down to the DNA level. Then the federal regulators came calling.
But instead of trying to outwit, sneak past or straight-up fight the FDA in the name of moving fast, Wojcicki made the call to work with regulators directly and collaboratively. Hear how (and why) she embraced red tape.
Crash the gates
- When faced with gatekeepers, entrepreneurs can cut through them, find smart hacks or deal honestly. View gatekeepers as an opportunity to find unfettered opportunities on the other side.
- Scaling a business often requires navigating gatekeepers, but finding ways to work with them can lead to growth and success. Perseverance and pragmatism are key traits to overcome obstacles and push past limits.
- Market research is crucial for startups to understand their target audience and effectively communicate the value of their product. Having a great idea is not enough; founders must also understand their market to succeed.
- Market research involves more than product testing—it’s about understanding viability and educating customers to shift attitudes towards innovative ideas. Engaging education can transform a “weird” product into a “wonderful” one.
- Consumers can change the game in an industry through innovative thinking and determination. Despite facing controversy and regulatory issues, 23andMe’s approach and attitude helped them overcome obstacles and make a positive impact.
- Seeing gatekeepers as partners, not obstacles, and understanding how to navigate regulatory bodies can lead to success and industry leadership. Cultivating contacts and being committed to long-term collaboration are essential.
Disruption without destruction
Working with regulators to establish trust and ensure safety can have a positive impact on society. Disruption doesn’t always mean destruction, and success can be achieved by raising the bar for everyone.
Lessons from Popular Movies for Entrepreneurial Success
In the world of entrepreneurship, gatekeepers can be a major challenge for startups. However, movies like “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Jurassic Park,” and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” offer some valuable lessons.
When faced with gatekeepers, sometimes the best option is to cut through them without hesitation, as Indy did with the sword-wielding ruffian. Other times, finding a smart hack or ruse to get around the barrier, like in “Jurassic Park,” can be effective.
And sometimes, dealing honestly and directly with gatekeepers, as Lancelot did in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” is the way to go. Regardless of the approach, gatekeepers should be viewed as an opportunity to find unfettered opportunity on the other side.
Those early days, we launched the company, we sold 1,000 kits those first couple days – and then we saw it trickle down to 10 to 20 kits a day. It was so sad.