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Building Best of Breed
3 min read

Building Best of Breed

In a couple of weeks from now, the world will "hopefully" witness the 2020 olympic games that were originally scheduled for last year. There are a lot of concerns around hosting it, even now and the japanese public seem quite split about it, but the games go back to the tradition of building best in breed.

There were 9 sports with 10 disciplines that took place in the first Summer Olympics in 1896 wherein 28 sports with 41 disciplines were included in the recent Olympics in 2016. In addition to that, there will be 33 sports with 50 disciplines that are scheduled for participation in the Tokyo Olympics 2020.

Comparatively, the ancient version of the olympics had only six sports- running, combat, disqus, long jump, pentathlon,  and equestrian events.

Breeding Dogs

There are many people who get quite emotionally attached to the idea of "native breeds". There are many who instead of getting a dalmation, or a doberman, would want to get a rajapalayam or a chippiparai breed of dog, because they are "indian" breeds.

Fact is almost all breeds of dogs are artificial and were created. The native varieties of dogs are essentially five or six types - the hounds, the huskies that came close to the wolves etc. Almost every other breed of dog one can imagine (including the pug) was and is man-made. They were bred for personality, temperament, body and agility for specific purposes.

None of these "breeds" showed up in nature as it is.

So from that PoV, the dog shows where a jury decides which show dog is the closest to the perfect specimen, is a means and way of protecting that specimen as closely as it was intended (even though the original reasons as to why certain breeds were developed, no longer exists). We don't hunt as much as we do, and hence the reason our "retrievers" whose jobs were to go fetch the ducks and peasants that a hunter would shoot down, are growing fat and out of shape in our limited apartment spaces. Dobermans were bred as guard dogs for prisons, and hence it is their default temperament to be jumpy at everything and not sit still but constantly keep moving around their territory. We just have security cameras these days, that it makes the original function of these breeds obsolete.

Beyond Dogs

There is perhaps no more reason to be breeding dogs as we used to. But this idea of  pushing forth a breed does exist in some other species. Chickens and Poultry are a benefactor of this space.

The US association of Poultry for eg, organizes poultry show dates where chicken farmers compete with each other for best in breed when it comes to different varieties of poultry (and ducks).

That competition has led to not just great stock in poultry - it keeps the gene pool healthy - but also has trickle down effects like chickens that lay eggs 300 days a year, compared to native varieties of birds that lay eggs 100 - 150 days in a year.

From Birds to Machines

It's not just farmers who are competing against each other in terms of building best in breed. Engineers are too.  So when we see machines in F1 racing going against each other backed by the R&D of some of the world's best in automobile, and pushing the limits of their machine with matching drivers who can get the most out of those machines, in a way we are seeing the same trend.

Everything that we see in our cars that we drive today has seen improvements that have been pushed by competitions like the F1 circuit.

Where things can and have gone wrong.

When we talk about horses, dogs, and birds and machines being pushed to the limits of what they can be - in a way accelerated in terms of natural selection to be the best of what it can be, it wasn't perhaps too far for someone to think about applying those same principles to human beings as well.

There is an entire science called Eugenics, that has strong ethical issues - but finds itself in topics now and then. It was even the basis for a story plot of the classic movie gattaca.

In a way we have drawn a fine line. It is becoming increasingly normal for foetuses to get tested for genetic abnormalities and for gene therapy, for chronic diseases.

Where do startups fit in?

Startups are in a way, the "best of breed" versions of the  generic business. While the Barnes and Nobles and all those traditional bookstores were the norm, amazon was perhaps the version that was bred for dominance, leveraging tech (and the internet) and the needs of consumer in mind.

While banks are the traditional versions, the neobanks are the specialized versions bred for dominance leveraging better technology and distribution.

You can look at the unicorns in every category and see a similar pattern. So if you are an entrepreneur, the question you should ask yourself is what is the space for which a entity that can disrupt the tradition and dominate the experience. If you can identify that, and can execute it, you have a startup.

Building startups are about building "best in breed" in a category. The smart entrepreneurs, define their own category too.

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