Small And Mighty: Why Small is Having A Big Moment

Last week I gave a talk at the Chicago Ideas Festival, as part of the entrepreneurship track, along with other well-known entrepreneurs, all of us women or PoC.

My talk focused on what I know best: building boutique companies and why small companies matter. While everyone exhorts you to think big, I have built two successful companies embracing thinking small and deep. My talk focused a bit on my journey and why small companies — with outsized influence — are having a moment.

I led off with this video trailer of the upcoming film Downsizing, as a precursor to why small is really the future of the world, in many ways beyond this improbable comedy.

Chicago Tribune did a good accurate summary of my 10 minute talk, which I am extracting below, along with my slides.

Rafat Ali, CEO of travel news site Skift, noted that he was possibly the least well-known person on the stage, but that’s kind of his point: Don’t focus on scale, but resonance.
“Young people… are navigating their life through a lens of travel, food and retail. In an age where community, family and others are being replaced by digital, where you’re also a lot more isolated in the world as you grow up, people have latched onto brands,” Ali said. “So brands then become a conduit to how you live your life. Young people are looking for a shared sense of community with their brands… Small is where these types of businesses are possible.”
Aim instead, he said, for outsized influence in specific areas.
“In the internet age, one of the big words that came about was scale. You can’t survive in this age without scale, meaning having big, giant, giant companies: Amazon, Facebook, Apple.
“What we have done is redefined what scale means. Scale means that for the people that do read Skift, for instance, people in the travel industry, we are hopefully a huge part of their daily lives. … You scale by taking more and more time from the people that care about what you do.”