Can a single-product company develop an enduring brand?

Summary:

Many experts suggest that a company in today's world cannot grow unless it must continuously adds products.

cokehistoryFrom 1886, when it was first concocted in Atlanta, until the mid 1950s, Coca Cola became the world’s best known brand, while selling just one product. Could that ever happen again? If not, what does that mean for start-ups and all single-product companies.

Today, many pundits suggest that single-product companies have no reason to live, to paraphrase Randy Newman.  Like short people, they are not likely to go away.  However, an entrepreneur seeking venture or institutional funding will find that community generally skeptical.

“Investors don’t invest in products, they invest in companies,” writes Sam Thacker, of Business Finance Solutions, in Austin, TX .  “While you might start with one product, you need to show investors that your first product is only one of many you can invent/produce/distribute.”

Mr. Thacker would not have given Coca Cola 70 years to introduce its second product.

Mir Imran, CEO of InCube Labs, an entrepreneur behind 20 different ventures has a somewhat different viewpoint.  He says start-up companies need to focus on developing a single product successful. But, the founders who have brought in equity partners to get them off the ground need to know that “how your shop will be sold or acquired is a critical part to its viability.”  They do not get 70 years either.

As a rule, successful single-product companies are acquired or launch more new products quickly.  All the while, Coca Cola has not yet been supplanted as the world’s most recognized brand.