S AN EXPLANATION for
the vision thing has been
taking its lumps lately.
Great ideas are a dime a
dozen, goes the argu-
ment; what’s scarce is
people who can execute on them. While the importance
of execution is indisputable, a string of conversations
we’ve had recently at Inc. has reminded us all that
greatness always, always starts with the
idea—or, to be precise, an idea backed by
On the stage of Inc.’s Women’s Summit,
we hosted the great Sara Blakely, founder
of Spanx and the youngest self-made
female billionaire in history. Spanx’s origin
story is famous—Blakely cut the feet of pantyhose and
improvised a slimming product that solved a problem
for women everywhere. The idea was simple, efective,
and brilliant, but it would have died in Blakely’s Atlanta
kitchen had she not followed it up by phoning, then
visiting, every hosiery mill in North Carolina, until her
conviction overwhelmed the skepticism she met in all
quarters and she found a manufacturing partner.
Two days later, on the stage of our Los Angeles iConic
conference, the founders of Zumba Fitness made a similar
point. You may know their startup story, too: how Alberto
Perez, the company’s creative force, and Alberto Perlman,
the CEO, met at the urging of Perlman’s mother to discuss
Perez’s idea for a business that made ftness fun. After
the two agreed that they loved the concept, Perez asked,
“Do you have any money?” “No. Do you?” “No.” Perfect,
the two agreed—what could possibly go wrong?
What I hadn’t heard before was this: At the time of
the meeting, Perez already had a lead on a million dollars
in funding. Why did he turn instead to the penniless
Perlman? “Something in here,” he says, pointing toward
his well-muscled chest, “told me that he was the partner
I was looking for.” So, success lesson number one:
Listen to your heart. Number two: Listen to your mom.
In the issue you’re holding, you’ll fnd still other
stories of world-changing vision backed by ferce conviction. As San Francisco bureau chief Jef Bercovici
relates in our cover feature, Memphis Meats co-founder
Uma Valeti left a comfortable career in cardiology to
pursue the idea of growing real meat in the laboratory.
He remains a long way from a commercial product.
What holds the company together is incremental progress and Valeti’s belief that the idea will work—that,
indeed, it must work, to save the planet.
The same mix of science and conviction is central to
editor-at-large Kimberly Weisul’s feature about Saundra
Pelletier, CEO of Evofem, maker of a breakthrough
contraceptive gel. Pelletier and her company are caught
in the regulatory mire known to every company trying to
introduce an innovative medicine. While FDA clinical
trials proceed glacially, Pelletier is holding her company
together by force of will. There is no guarantee Evofem
will succeed. But there would have been no chance at all
without Pelletier’s vision.
Eric Schurenberg firstname.lastname@example.org
While FDA clinical trials proceed
glacially, Pelletier is holding her company
together by force of will.
EDITOR’S LETTER 16 - INC. - NOVEMBER 2017