Jim McKelvey is the billionaire co-founder of Square (now Block), chairman of the St. Louis Federal Reserve, and one of today’s most visionary minds on building unbeatable businesses.
But before all the fancy titles, Jim was a passionate glassblowing artist who’d lost a much needed $2,000 sale simply because he couldn’t accept American Express. So with no experience or expertise, Jim threw himself into solving the problem and Square was born.
Yet not long after launch, Amazon copied their product and undercut their price. Jim was outfunded and outstaffed. For most, this would’ve spelled the end. And up until that point, it had spelled the end for every startup Amazon sought to destroy…until Jim.
Instead, less than a year later, and for the first time in history, Amazon was the one in full retreat and soon discontinued its service. Square had won. Amazon even mailed all of their soon to be “former” customers a Square chip reader!
So how does a glassblower transform into one of today’s most successful serial entrepreneurs and even take on the “Goliath” of all competitors and win? It’s not having more capital or the right connections, instead it was one key strategy which Jim calls…
an innovation stack
“Who can say they went up against Amazon — and won? Jim McKelvey can.”
Peter Thiel, entrepreneur, investor, and author of Zero to One