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Successful Startups Spark “Little C” Culture

What do Spotify, SnapChat, and AirBNB all have in common?

They’ve all ignited their products and services by using technology to disrupt “little c” culture to create something new and uniquely useful. “Little c” culture refers to the customs, behaviors and habits between groups or a larger society.

These startups all dug deeper to understand the everyday culture amongst their initial audiences and how they could create a product or service that made it easier for specific groups to enhance everyday patterns.

Remember when we had to illegally download mp3s from random programs and work out a way to share the best songs with our buddies? Spotify gives us an easier and legal way to consume, share, and discover music within our circle of friends. For example, they have social playlists which allow groups to collectively share and learn from others in the group what songs help identify who they are, without worrying about finding the music.

Remember when we doodled a funny drawing on a piece of scrap paper and passed it around class for a laugh? SnapChat provides us all a more entertaining and meaningful way to communicate by giving us the ability to capture and share ephemeral images. This technology allows us to reproduce everyday patterns and gestures, like a quick facial reaction, in order to express a mood or inside message to a group.

Remember when we traveled on a whim and we had to track down a friend-of-a-friend’s couch for the night? AirBNB improves on this cultural norm and allows us to book accommodations from others in their places at a lower price than hotel rooms. While the quality of service may not be as high as a hotel, AirBNB’s disruptive technology makes up for it with easy to book prime locations, ratings for knowledgeable hosts, and social features that provide transparency.

When developing innovative products or solutions, it’s important to consider three elements:

  1. Remind yourself where little “c” culture of fits into your product or service.
  2. Remember that “little c” culture is constantly morphing its core values and becoming more complex. Technology can help us corral it, as well as push it.
  3. Use ‘small bets’ (taking small exploratory steps in inventive directions) to see if culture will latch on or reject your creation.

It’s all about creating something that’s a living, breathing presence in “small c” culture.


Levi Brooks is the CEO/Co-founder of Use All Five.
Follow Levi on Twitter

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