Santa Claus: World’s Greatest Entrepreneur
I know, I know. You’re thinking, Santa up against the likes of Bill Gates, Andrew Carnegie, Andy Grove, John Rockefeller, Thomas Edison. W.K. Kellogg, Henry Ford, Ray Kroc, EstÃ©e Lauder, Sam Walton, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, Martha Stewart, Jeff Bezos, etc? (complete list is available on Business Week Greatest Entrepreneurs of all Time)
But he really is. Uber Entrepreneur that guy. My claim is based on this scientifically generated research that I’m about to profer.
So in the spirit of the 12 days of Christmas, and assembled as if an executive summary for Santa, Inc., here are the 12 ways Santa Claus has got to be the world’s greatest Entrepreneur:
- Story. Legendary. All entrepreneurs have to pitch the biz story, right? For sales, for capital, for exits, etc. Very key. And compare whatever measly story you have or want to have and put it up against all things Santa? No chance. Even stories of the caliber of taking 1,000 tries to invent the light bulb, or inventing the assembly line, or the creating of the microprocessor just aren’t as good. Santa is the definition of legendary. And it’s a feel good story to boot. Just the marketing and sales of Santa’s story (related merchandise, movie deals) probably puts him in top 25 of great entrepreneurs and that’s all just incidental fluff compared to his core business.
Problem. Boredom. Plain and simple. Affects everyone, ESPECIALLY ages 1 to 10. And who doesn’t believe that kids in that age group basically run
their parentsthe world?
- Solution. Toys. Anyone with kids knows that the antidote to boredom is some new toy; the shinier and cooler the better. And this solution isn’t only applicable to kids–we all need our toys. And then with his ninja marketing: “It’s better to give than receive?” Come on, we all know that’s bunk. He found a way to turn the truth on its head. And how many times have one of us adults given a present to someone as a surprise (even ourselves) and written on the card: “To: Jeremy From: Santa.” Santa is a marketing genius in the positioning of his master-minded solution. He gives us an excuse to buy toys for ourselves or others that we wouldn’t otherwise. Genius.
- Market Opportunity. Massive. Addressable market: all the children of the world (currently 2.2 Billion or so) AND all the people associated with kids in any way: parents, grandparents, used to be a kid, etc. And growth? Based on current projections, the world population should hit 9 billion in the next 35 years. That’s a lot of new kids turning into lots of new adults that a lot of times still act like kids. This dude picked a BIG market. VC’s, do the back of the envelope calculation on that one. (Look, I know that not everyone believes in Santa Claus. So some might trifle with my market opportunity numbers, but come on, we all know that Santa makes all the world’s toys. All the toy company brands are just wholly owned subsidiaries setup for favorable tax and customs treatment.)
- Segmentation. So Santa deploys the ultimate market segmentation strategy: the Naughty/Nice list. The customer isn’t always right in Santa’s world. Oh no. The customer has to be a good customer first. And if not, the entire model makes it legit for that customer to expect a lump of coal for their bad customer behavior–and the customers are all OK with it. Amazing segmentation strategy, just amazing.
- Competition. None. Seriously, most entrepreneurs at some point have said: “we don’t have any competition.” You all know you have, even if only in your way early and inexperienced days. The thing is, Santa really doesn’t, he’s that legit. I mean he’s Santa, an icon. Couldn’t compete with that if you tried. (See #9 below on IP as well, not going to happen)
- Channel and Growth.In the early days, Santa pretty much only had Religion to loosely tie his solution too. But like any smart entrepreneur, he realized the need to diversify and latched onto capitalism and commercialism with a fervor. The growth that caused! Commercialism is his opportunity to continue to grow and penetrate the rest of the international market, since he has nearly 100% market share in the U.S. and other mostly Christian nations.
- Team. Magical elfs? Check. Flying reindeer? Check. And location? For the team, that’s so important. It’s the North Pole, for goodness sake. That’s far more exotic than Silicon Valley. Recruiting has to be a breeze. And for corporate management, who wouldn’t want to attend board meetings there?
- IP. Technology that slows down time? Ability to enter any home or structure with or without a chimney? Software that knows what everyone’s wish list of toys is, AND if they’ve been naughty or nice? (that’s the real database of intentions, John Battelle should write a book called The Santa to follow The Search) And any IP is only as good as its uptime and scalability. Think of the implied SLA Santa has with the world. His IP is solid. And like a smart entrepreneur, he forwent spending his limited resources chasing patents in the messed up world of the USPTO. He technology is so innovative and so revolutionary (and created by a team of mythical creatures in at the North Pole) it’s very protectable. And what I wouldn’t give to visit Santa Labs of the Santa NOC. That’d be a sight.
- Traction. Santa arguably has the largest team of evangelists ever: 86% of kids in the US believe in him, which means 86% of American adults believed in Santa as children. People talk about Apple, Nike, Harley Davidson as examples of companies with evangelical, fanboy/fangirl customers. Think about that for a second though. Kids and Santa? You ever see a room of kids when they’re singing Santa Claus is Coming to Town and then Santa walks in? Steve Jobs would kill to have that reaction at WWDC. Santa, Inc. is the world’s most powerful brand with so much momentum and traction it far surpasses pretty much anything else.
- Funding. Nil. Didn’t take any. Doesn’t need any. Organic growth and bootstrapping the whole way, and he even wears the boots to prove it!
- Ego. Do you know any entrepreneurs? Narcissistic to the core, most of us. And Santa? To be ‘the one dude’ to deliver toys to the entire world? To be judge and jury on whether someone is naughty or nice? And I know some entrepreneurs get caught up with themselves and their personal image and how they act, but Santa? With the suit and the “Ho, Ho, Ho” laugh? If he wasn’t such a genius, all that would be borderline crazy. He’s walking the line, walking the line.
There you have it.
Finally, some may question his ‘lack of an exit’ as proof that he’s not in the same league as others. But look at it. Santa, Inc is worth Trillions, with a T. Just the naughty/nice mailing list linked to the world’s wants and wishes would be worth 10 times Google. The valuation on Santa’s tech would be off the charts as well. If and when Santa exits, he’ll have plenty of dough to setup the Santa and Mrs. Claus Foundation as the world’s largest charitable organization.
There’s no question in my mind: Santa Claus is the World’s Greatest Entrepreneur.
I’m sure that my list is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg that broke off from the North Pole because of global warming. How else is Santa the world’s greatest entrepreneur? Have some fun and comment away…