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If you’re familiar with smartphones, you’ve probably heard of Nothing. That’s right, it’s the rather young tech company founded in 2020 that wants to make tech fun again.

Making a name for oneself amongst big competitors is no easy feat. After all, the industry is dominated by giants like Samsung and Apple who have long built a loyal customer base.

A reason why Nothing has been able to do so could be attributed to the company’s innovative tech offerings, such as the latest Nothing Ear (2) that have native integration with ChatGPT. 

But another part of it comes down to its team and the CEO behind Nothing, Carl Pei, who shared four key entrepreneurial lessons during the KL20 Summit during a talk moderated by Leslie Sarma, a member of Global Tech Advocates.

1. Pacing is everything in business

As a company that already has an established customer base, one of the biggest concerns when it comes to innovation is driving existing consumers away. You see this happening when companies push for changes that are too drastic in too short a period.

Yes, the offerings you provide need to keep up with the times, particularly in industries that change so quickly like tech. 

However, pacing is equally important. “If you go too far, then you might confuse and alienate customers because it’s difficult to use or they might not be ready for a new type of product,” Carl explained. 

An example he shared was the user interface in smartphones. Although Nothing has big plans to shake that up, Carl said, “We have to take a very gradual approach because people love their apps. You can’t just go from the current smartphone interface to a brand new interface without apps at one go.”

Image Credit: KL20 Summit

People will be taken aback and might not adjust to the changes well. Hence, leading them to feel like the brand and product doesn’t fit into their lifestyles anymore.

Every entrepreneur will have a different idea on what’s the right thing to do for the brand at the right time. But if you’re unsure, two steps you can take to prevent alienating consumers while still staying ahead of the game are:

  • Asking customers for their opinion before making major shifts, and
  • Running a pilot programme to get their feedback first.

2. You don’t have to do everything yourself

You might want to believe that in order to succeed, everything in your company’s repertoire has to be your own creation. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

While it would be nice to have your name on every component in the business, it’s simply not realistic if you want to scale up fast. And for some entrepreneurs, that might be the priority.

Carl believes companies should be more prudent in making use of what’s already available in the market. It would save more time and manpower to enlist the help of some partnering companies than to develop something in-house.

But do note that you shouldn’t outsource everything either, especially when it comes to your business’s core offerings. For example, Apple opted to design its own custom chips rather than outsourcing the manufacturing process.

The reason for this is as simple as businesses needing to fully understand their core offerings, or else you’ll lose your edge and end up having to rely on others in the long run.

3. The barrier to adoption is actually trust

A lot of times, entrepreneurs worry that what’s stopping consumers from using their products is competitors. However, if you’ve already done what you could to differentiate and market your product then that’s something you can’t control. So why focus on it?

Instead, companies should pay attention to what they can manage, such as building trust with their customers. The most notable yet subtle way of doing this is by making sure that your product actually does what you say it can do. 

Coming through on your claims can make or break the trust of your consumers, which determines whether they’ll be loyal to the product or discard it.

For example, Carl himself is known for being open to addressing criticisms and concerns that people have towards Nothing. He does this through the brand’s YouTube channel where he hosts as a native creator. This comes off as less of a branding page compared to the channels of other tech giants.

Another example would be when a lot of companies were pushing for voice assistants to rival Siri and Alexa a couple years ago. But these products never managed to gain people’s trust because if you ask it something, they’ll give you a far-fetched answer so you never use it again. 

So if you’re planning to create new tech or solutions, then it has to make good on its claims. Otherwise, you can very easily lose the trust of consumers.

4. Staying niche is more than okay

It’s a common belief in the business world that the best way to be profitable is by being mass-friendly. The wider you cast your net, the higher your chances of success.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t any market for more niche categories. As Carl put it, “If everyone is focused on serving the needs of the broad spectrum of consumers, they’re not going to be able to cover the needs of the niche very well.”

Taking his own company as an example, Nothing was made for tech enthusiasts who are captivated by unique design. 

Not everyone would find its transparent back with glyphs attractive, but there’s certainly a crowd for it. This includes people who prefer not to be glued to their phone so much, where the glyphs and custom light-up patterns serve as notifications. You don’t even have to look at your screen to know who’s texting or calling.


While Carl comes from a tech background, this doesn’t mean that all four pieces of his advice can’t be used in different industries. 

As Nothing continues to carve out its path in the tech world, Carl’s wisdom serves as good rules of thumb for those looking to establish themselves in a saturated market.

  • Read articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: KL20 Summit

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)