“A New Species of Disruptors”
Ryker Taylor
February 5, 2020

Reading Time: ( Word Count: )

Our team had the opportunity to attend “Inbound19” in Boston, MA last September. For those reading that may not know what that is, “Inbound” is a conference that is spearheaded by the folks at HubSpot. If you’re asking yourself who HubSpot is, you can learn more about them here.

In addition to the hundreds of breakout sessions and keynotes that happen throughout the week, the co-founders of Hubspot get their own prime-time keynotes.

This blog post is about Brian Halligan, the CEO of Hubspot, keynote! He titled it “A New Species of Disruptors.” I felt like it painted a great picture of the future of what customers will expect, nay, the demand of businesses.

Setting The Stage

Brian is a high-energy type of guy and his speech followed in those footsteps. Jokes were in abundance, and his slide deck was awesome!

He started off by telling us about his nightly routine, being sure to namedrop specific businesses whose services are a part of the said routine. In total, there were 8. Here they are:

  • Netflix
  • Spotify
  • Lyft
  • DoorDash
  • Chewy
  • Casper
  • DollarShaveClub
  • SoulCycle

He began to paint the picture that these businesses have worked their way into our daily lives and replaced their more long-standing “traditional” counterparts with little effort when considering the grand scheme of things.

He then moved on to talk about some companies that are changing the way businesses do business in the same vein. Here are the ones he talked about:

  • AWS
  • WeWork
  • Zoom
  • ezCater
  • Slack

Each of these companies is worth over $1B ?. Let’s break down why.


The reason these companies are the way they are is that they are “disruptors” in their given industries.

He goes on to say that “Disruption” used in this context is one of the most over-used/under-understood terms out there. Here’s his list in the exact order (And I tend to agree with him, especially on the first three.):

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • BlockChain
  • Disruption
  • Arbitrage
  • Correlation / Causation

Brian’s theory on why it’s an overused, under-understood term is that when people think of “Disruptors” or “Disruption” they think of the “Technology Disruptors” like Google, Tesla, Intel, Apple, and others.

While some of the companies mentioned earlier in this post like Netflix or Spotify utilize technology, they’re not what you would call a ” Technology Disruptor.” They are a new species of disruptor… an “Experience Disruptor.”

What Makes Up An Experience Disruptor

Brain says that every experience disruptor has 5 core adaptions woven into their DNA. He goes to list each one out and how they compare to the more “Traditional Incumbents” in the industry. Think of this as a playbook of things to focus on that you can use to turn your business into an Experience Disruptor.

1st Adaptation

Incumbent businesses focus on Product-Market Fit.

Experience Disruptor businesses focus on Experience-Marketing Fit

Think of the business of car sales. No person on this earth likes the way the traditional way of buying a car is done. It takes a long time, has tons of paperwork, and at the end of the day, you feel like the salesperson exists to rip you off. Car dealerships can sell you the product you want (i.e. a car) but fall way short of giving you the experience you want.

Now consider companies like Carvana. They are shaking up the industry because they allow you to complete the long, stressful process of buying a car from the comfort of your home in a fraction of the time. They handle all of the paperwork for you, and they deliver the car to your doorstep at the time you choose. Best of all, they have a 1-Week no-strings-attached refund policy! Now that’s some disruption.

The Experience Disruptor, in this case, Carvana, has the same “product” as a traditional dealership, but they make the whole experience significantly better.

How They Sell Is Why They Win

2nd Adaptation

Incumbent businesses are Friction-Filled

Experience Disruptor businesses are Frictionless

When it comes to business-to-customer interaction, no one likes a painful process! Incumbent businesses tend to have long-standing, outdated policies that tend to cause their customers pain.

If you make the process of buying your product/service, returning/canceling your product/service, or interacting with customer support difficult, you’re adding friction to your business.

Experience disruptors focus on removing as much friction from all of their processes as possible.

How The Sell Is Why They Win

3rd Adaptation

Incumbent businesses keep their customer experience process Depersonalized or Anonymous

Experience Disruptors use data Personalize your experience with them

Incumbent businesses typically have a less personalized way of doing business. Interactions with their customers are more rigid and one-size-fits-all style.

Experience Disruptors use data to help personalize a customer’s experience. Think Netflix. They suggest content based on a user preference. They are able to hype-personalize the experience they provide based on the individual data they have for that user.

When customer/user data is used to offer a better individual experience and not for a business to sell off to the highest bidder, that’s when everyone truly wins.

How The Sell Is Why They Win

4th Adaptation

Incumbent businesses sell to customers

Experience Disruptors sell through their customers

Incumbent businesses focus on selling their products/services to customers. They think about a simple business-to-customer sales interaction.

Experience disruptors take it a step further. They don’t just sell to a customer, they focus on empowering that customer to share their story and to promote the companies. They sell on a customer-to-customer basis.

How The Sell Is Why They Win

5th Adaptation

Incumbent businesses follow a traditional standard

Experience Disruptors bust traditional business standards and pave a new path

Experience Disruptors shine in this adaptation. Rethinking things like the traditional “terms & conditions,” or return policy, how they make business decisions, all of it.

Experience disruptors look at every aspect of a business and say “How can we add value?” Incumbents, for the most part, stay in a mindset of “How can we get the most out of our customers.”

How The Sell Is Why They Win

Wrapping Up

Our experience at Inbound19 was awesome! Bryan’s keynote was spot on. And lobster rolls are overhyped.

On a serious note, Experience Disruptors are all around us, always looking to change and better the experiences that exist in the world today.

If you’ve been asking yourself “How can my business grow and become an asset to the world?”, then follow this playbook. Engrain these adaptions into the very fabric of your business being.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to better the experience your business provides then check out the page we made that’s all about that very thing.

Remember, How You Sell, Is Why You’ll Win.

‘Til next time.

Make use of our marketing industry knowledge to meet your business goals.

Get started with a non-committal meeting and level up your business!

Share This