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Aug 3, 2020    Burn Book



Hey — remember when we wrote about what we thought would be driving emerging tech startups in 2020/21? It was this blog from a few months back. The answer, we predicted, is that it would be DARQ: distributed ledger technology, artificial intelligence, extended reality, and quantum computing.

We Knew These Would Be DARQ Times

Well, we’re back, with a little glimmer in our eye for this week’s ‘not sponsored, just stalking’ spotlight on startups. Even though D-Wave was founded in 1999, we (and they) still consider it a startup due to their consistent growth (as opposed to time existing or funding raised) in the relatively new and mysterious industry of quantum computing.

Though they have competitors funded by the millions now, like Quantum Machines and IonQ, D-Wave is leading the industry as the best-known quantum computing company and, according to a TechCrunch article, owe their success in large part to their “early start and smart marketing in [their] early days.”

What we at Rock Candy Media in Austin found most interesting about D-Wave wasn’t just that they started so early (1999) compared to the founding dates of their furthest-along competitors (2018 & 2015). It’s that, what we see as the top integrated marketing agency and experts in the ever-evolving game of branding, they’re still leading in spite of being first to market.

Fake Rat Race

(This is something we freely share in our infamous kickoff meetings:) This race to be first to market is a sham. It’s a dumbed-down perception of a race to success when, in reality, second and third (and sometimes beyond) to market are the ones with the most opportunity for success. Second and Third to market get to learn from First’s mistakes. They can base their entire branding model off of the weaknesses First has. They can ghost-sit-in on First’s entire sales cycle and strategies, find out where target audiences fall off, and be there in the pit to brush off those targets and redirect them to their competitive differentiators.

But this isn’t just picking up the crumbs from the First. As First gets comfy in their spot in the market, they tend to get lazy in their branding and integrated marketing. It’s similar to how many startups think brand naming and logo design is the end for branding strategy altogether. As they see steady numbers roll in because they have the most recognizable name, their competitors are clawing their way up through innovative and out-of-the-box marketing and redirecting strategies — out of necessity.

The only people that stay at the top are the ones that never stop evolving, as if they were at the bottom. Luckily for D-Wave, it seems they are doing just that, with their latest release coming just this year and their truly unique angle on tackling how to make quantum computing more widely available and usable: quantum annealing.

Seeing that quantum computing is at such an early development stage (or rather, application/usability stage), we’re hesitant to call D-Wave the frontrunner for long. Because, while they tackle quantum annealing and already have partnerships with NASA and the like, IonQ is tackling it from an angle of trapped ion technology (allowing their machines to run at room temperature, bypassing other quantum computers’ major necessity of cooling), and Quantum Machines is focusing on hardware for quantum processing (since, once quantum computing is widely available via the cloud, most normal computers won’t be able to handle the processing).

What You’re Up Against Is A Blessing

We love a good market race, but this is deeper than that. And in this industry, it’s more complicated than that. In the meantime, especially knowing the importance of product naming and brand marketing strategy, we hope any newcomers in the DARQ field know, 1) what they’re up against, and 2) how being late to the game can be a good thing.

Keep up with us as we stalk more emerging tech startups with our series on the blog, and hit us up if your business is ready to start strategizing. We didn’t get to be the top advertising agency and top naming firm just by winning a race — and we have the case studies and press to prove it.

Let Your Curiosity Take Control