9 Things Your Startup Should Learn from Jack Dorsey’s Square

9 Things Your Startup Should Learn from Jack Dorsey’s Square


Square is an electronic payment service, provided by Square Inc. The company allows users in the United States and Canada to accept credit cards through their mobile phones, either by swiping the card on the Square device or by manually entering the details on the phone.

Square is disrupting the mobile payment industry and it’s revolutionary mobile technology is  transforming  credit card payments but  to grow into a giant mobile payment platform, Square would need support many different devices. Square was listed as one of the most innovative companies of 2012 by Forbes.

The company has raised more than $200 million—and is now valued at more than $3.2 billion. Square’s revenue rose to roughly $42.5 million in 2011, from $2 million in 2010, according to PrivCo.com Inc., a New York research firm.

Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of both Twitter and Square shared how Square started and the company’s plans for the future in various interviews.

1. How Square started: It came about because my co-founder is a glass artist and he sells these beautiful glass faucets and he was selling one for $2,000.  And all he had in his pocket was his mobile phone.  He couldn’t accept the credit card from the woman who wanted to buy this faucet and she didn’t have a checkbook and she obviously didn’t have $2,000 of cash, so he lost the sale.

2. Goal: Square is well ahead of where we thought it would be. We’re not international. But we do have a goal this year…to see Square in many markets around the world.

3. Goal: My goal is to simplify complexity.  I just want to build stuff that really simplifies our base human interaction. Twitter was around communication and visualizing what was happening in the world in real-time.  Square was allowing everyone to accept the form of payment people have in their pocket today, which is a credit card. So we have built the simplest way to accept credit cards.

4. On New Technology: We build it for ourselves, first. If we love using it on a daily basis, then there’s probably some resonance there. And we start testing it with other people and if the resonance is validated, we scale it. It’s really hard to quantify or qualify, but you know when you see it. You feel it.

5. On Building New Companies: Every day is a roller coaster. Every day is an existential threat, questioning the entire business. You wake up and you are completely jazzed about what happens and then you read an article…about a potential competitor or a rumor, and it feels like—wait, what are we going to do?

6. On Business Planning: We definitely have a lot of plans and we stick to them and hold ourselves accountable to them. But the way we funded ourselves is not [showing investors] a 40-page business plan. It was by asking, “Do you have a credit card? I’d like to show you the new product.” Once they are hooked, say, “Here’s how we will scale. Here’s how we will build it.

7. On Minimizing Fraud: So we actually have a lot of benefit in using the credit card system itself because a lot of the protections are on the payer side.  When someone issues you a credit card, when your bank issues you a credit card, they assume that that card is going to be lost or stolen.  So all of the protections are watching the payer. So if we get a swipe or if we get a signature on those card payments then a lot of the risk is off us because we know the payer was in that location. And apart for that, there’s a lot of information in these phones.  There’s GPS.  We know where the transactions are taking place.

8. Lesson: I think the biggest thing to do — the hardest thing to do — is start. You have all these ideas and everyone has an idea but it’s really about executing the idea and building the idea and attracting other people to help you work on the idea. That is the biggest challenge. But the way to begin is to get the idea out of your head, draw it out, talk about it, program it if you’re a programmer or make it if you’re building something.

9. Advice: Pick a movement, pick a revolution and join it. What we want to bring into the world is revolution. Revolution has values, revolution has purpose, revolution has direction, revolution has leaders. Revolution looks at the intersection ahead and pushes people to do the right thing.

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