Rebels are the ones who change the world

By Ross Chaldecott — Published

The very act of starting a business is an act of rebellion. It’s saying to the world that the established way is wrong. That things could be better. It takes a load of guts and a whole lot of determination to even attempt it.

Shopify and Airbnb are both really great examples of companies that have questioned the status quo and made connections between otherwise disconnected disciplines and industries, and have translated that into massive disruption. Neither of these businesses was easy or obvious to start and both of them had to deal with a large number of doubters and skeptics along the way. We don’t really think of them as rebels today, but they are both precisely that.

Probably the most famous story from early Airbnb is how they sold breakfast cereals to fund themselves. In my mind that’s far from the most interesting learnings we can take from them. More revealing are things like their cult-like approach to moving hosts to being activist members of their community - helping to drive policy change through councils and empower more hosts. Or the way that they were willing to put the entire company on the line and take an incredibly opinionated stance, asking their hosts to accept everyone and even take refugees into their homes and publicly joining the fight for marriage equality in Australia. To me these are incredible examples of opinionated marketing and how a company can bring meaning to business. They’re also great examples of what rebellion can look like on a global stage. Few businesses, especially ones at scale, are comfortable take public positions and risking alienating huge parts of their customer base.

Shopify talks a lot about arming the rebels. Empowering anyone, with any level of experience, any background, and any financial situation, with the tools to go head-to-head with the largest retailers on the face of the planet. And for the first time we see companies started by a single person selling clothes from their living room, turning into billion dollar businesses.

It’s not really the act of rebellion here that matters. It’s what it translates to. Airbnb and Shopify both create millions of jobs, generate billions of dollars in revenue for their hosts and merchants, and help to create a more thriving economy. They help to make a better world for us collectively as a species.

Kinde as a company is an act of rebellion. When we were getting started, a lot of non-believers told us that what we were attempting was impossible. To even attempt to build a compound product to solve auth, user management, feature flags and billing (all in one) in a world full of established vertical players, was completely heretical. Companies like Auth0, Launchdarkly and Chargebee are 10,000 pound gorillas and dominate their industries. How could one small startup from Australia with relatively little funding possibly hope to build all of that product – let alone be competitive?

Our belief is that, ultimately, it’s the rebels who are the ones who change the world. The scrappy ones who make connections and see things beyond the traditional world view. And we’re proving that. We’re already starting to see a swing in mindset from customers. Where people aren’t looking for a single point solution anymore. Especially in a downturn, nobody wants to buy multiple solutions, with multiple bills, when there is a single offering that does everything.

It just makes sense. And I firmly believe that, in time, there will be no such thing as these individual vertical providers. Engineers and founders will simply buy infrastructure and start building their products. In the same way that Shopify changed the game for retail, Kinde is changing it for SaaS.

Like Shopify and Airbnb, we don’t do this because we want to build a huge business (although that is a great outcome). We do this in order to create a world with more founders. To empower as many people to rebel. To create something bigger and better than they can ever imagine. To unlock access to entrepreneurship in ways that have never existed before.

What seemed like a totally crazy idea, is becoming real. We’re empowering thousands of founders to go and create incredible things. This is how rebels become the mainstream and change the world.