‘Don’t Reinvent The Wheel, Improve It’, says Tech Accessory Innovator
This blog is based on an episode of our podcast, The PathCast. The PathCast is an interview series with tech and business experts, discussing the good, the bad and ugly of business and providing actionable steps for you to implement from the ground up. You can listen to this episode here.
Juiced Systems was originally a small computer network admin company, but it evolved quickly into one of the first-ever third-party mobile accessory providers. Focusing especially on Android, founder Dylan Smith identified a gap in the emerging market as it became flooded with third-party Apple accessories.
“We provided IT support to small and medium-sized businesses,” Smith said. “We created their networks, built computers, servers, and set up workstations, and then came to a crucial pivoting point that sent the company in an entirely new direction.”
Juiced’s co-founder went back to his day job and the pair shut down the company’s IT side. Smith? He tagged along to a friend’s trip to China, where he “slept on the hotel floor”, and visited a factory that would go on to manufacture Juiced Systems’ products.
From soap to tech success
More often than not, potential founders can be put off pursuing their ideas because of the prospect of failing. While, of course, you shouldn’t make a go of everything, Smith has had “multiple solopreneur failures”, but never let that shake him. “They were all just stepping stones to Juiced Systems,” he reflected.
In a stark industry shift, one previous venture saw him selling homemade soap out of his home. Today, old buyers still ask for more. Here at Radial Path, we think the soap should be brought back as limited edition Juiced Systems merch.
“I already had the knowledge of the IT industry and I saw an opportunity. I took a chance on creating a small product and never looked back.
“As a solopreneur you realize pretty quickly the aspects of business you know nothing about, as well as the segments you absolutely hate having to address. People can’t purchase your product if they can’t find it. Marketing has always been the main business nemesis.”
Smith emphasizes his grapple with marketing, and, when asked how large the Juiced team is today, the extent of this struggle was clear – he outsources the work he can’t do, but has someone in-house for marketing.
A key lesson is to be learned from this; play on your strengths. While Smith clearly grasps both the next opportunity and challenge with two hands, he knows when to step back and let someone else take the reins.
Don’t try to reinvent the wheel
Nothing today is truly innovative; knowing that from the outset will put you in good stead.
"I didn't reinvent the wheel, I just added the common sense factor to it,” Smith said. He saw how companies were producing unofficial Apple cables but noticed there were very few people doing so for Android accessories, which led him to create the first one-meter charging cable.
Today, this sort of tech is commonplace. Juiced Systems has successfully built a brand not for the consumer, but for small to medium-sized enterprises that rely on third-party accessories being affordable but high quality.
"You've got to be different – my category was so crucial in that. I had to separate myself from the masses,” Smith said. “Be different and provide something better than what everyone else is – not just cheaper, but actually better."
Not just cheaper is an important point. In a saturated market like computing accessories, it’s easy to succumb to the race to the bottom. But by offering the same product as your competitors and simply marking it up at a slightly lower price, you end up devaluing the whole industry as someone else will always come along and undercut you, too.
PS. Want to stay in the loop?
If you’d like to stay up to date with Smith and Juiced Systems, see the links below.