How One Statistic Inspired Jeff Bezos to Start Amazon

Taking advantage of rising trends

Samir S.
6 min readDec 21, 2020
Photo from Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

Jeff Bezos was just like any other person.

After graduating from Princeton University in 1986 with a degree in electrical engineering and computer science, Bezos rejected positions offered by companies such as Intel & Bell Labs.

He later accepted a job at Fitel, which was a telecommunications start-up. At Fitel, he eventually became the head of development and director of customer service.

Fitel failed to get off the ground so Bezos left and took up a new position as product manager at Banker’s Trust. Bezos then quickly rose up the ranks to become Vice President but it was something that didn’t interest him.

In pursuit of a position that was tech-related, he took a job at hedge fund D.E. Shaw and became Vice President in four years. It was at this job that would redefine Bezos’s future.

As Vice President in 1994, Bezos had to research new business ideas on the Internet. The Internet became a global communication network in the 1990s and it was rapidly growing. While researching new business opportunities, he came across a report that was forecasting rapid growth of the internet. The report said that web usage was growing at 2,300 percent per year. In a 2010 speech at Princeton, Bezos said,

“I came across the fact that Web usage was growing at 2,300 percent per year. I’d never seen or heard of anything that grew that fast, and the idea of building an online bookstore with millions of titles — was very exciting to me.”

Jeff Bezos knew right then that he wanted to participate in the Internet that was going to be revolutionary.

But Bezos faced a dilemma.

He could either stay at his current stable job as Vice President or quit everything and chase his idea of starting an online bookstore. Bezos of course chose the latter and he later said,

“At the same time, I knew that I might sincerely regret not having participated in this thing called the Internet that I thought was going to be a revolutionizing event. When I thought about it that way … it was incredibly easy to make the decision.”

So Bezos did what any aspiring entrepreneur does. He quit his job and moved to Seattle, Washington where he began to work on Amazon.

His parents invested $250,000 in his start-up and in July 1995, was launched as an online bookstore.

Bezos had always envisioned as an everything store not just an online book store so Bezos worked to incorporate all aspects of products into his store.

Today Amazon is a $1 trillion company with Jeff Bezos being the richest person in the world with a net worth of 182 billion USD.

What can we learn from Bezos?

Take advantage of rising trends and opportunities

I firmly believe that the single most important reason Bezos and Amazon are what they are today is because Bezos simply took advantage of a rising trend. Bezos was inspired to start Amazon because of the statistic he saw. Web usage was growing at 2,300 percent per year and Bezos didn’t want to miss the opportunity of participating in it.

By taking advantage of rising trends and opportunities, people are able to cement themselves as early adopters and are able to have a much wider influence on the industry. Taking early action and fully capitalizing on an opportunity is far better than participating in an opportunity at a later stage.

Fully commit to a goal

It’s not just about taking advantage of new and rising trends. Anyone can do this. The thing that differentiates the dreamers from the pursuers is the level of commitment.

Dreamers just dream about the end goal. Pursuers actually work for it.

Dreamers just hope to achieve success one day. Pursuers work their butt off for their goal.

Dreamers forget about the path to success. Pursuers work hard to build the path to success.

Never forget to fully commit to a goal. Bezos could have just ignored the statistic about web usage increasing by about 2300% every year.

But he didn’t.

Bezos wanted to make an impact and boy did he make an impact. Amazon was a huge risk and Bezos fully knew of the risk.

Bezos quit his financially stable job and move to Seattle, Washington where he started Amazon out of his garage.

The Internet was barely getting started in the 1990s and turning an online bookstore into a viable concept seemed too hard. Bezos thought there was a 30% chance Amazon would become a successful company and instead of letting this push him down, Bezos worked hard to make Amazon what it is today.

Never be afraid to try new things / Go out of your comfort zone

Jeff Bezos could have stayed as Vice President of D.E. Shaw instead of quitting his financially stable job and trying to start a company which had a high probability of failing.

And that is the reason why Jeff Bezos and Amazon are so successful today.

Jeff Bezos simply went out of his comfort zone and never looked back. He knew what he wanted and he worked hard on it.

Bezos didn’t care that a concept like online bookstore had never existed before.

Bezos didn’t care that the Internet was barely beginning to put its foot on the ground.

Bezos didn’t care he had no experience in building an online store.

Bezos wasn’t afraid of trying new things.

Sure, it is always a risk of trying new things. It could become a huge flop. But Bezos knew from that statistic that the potential for tremendous growth and success existed and that significantly outweighed the risk of Amazon being a total flop.

Never stop trying to advance

Here’s an interesting fact.

Amazon lost a total of $2.8 billion for its first 17 quarters as a public company. Amazon later started reporting tens of billions of dollars of sales each quarter but only made like tens or millions of dollars of profit.

Even during this struggle, Bezos didn’t stop trying. Bezos knew that the journey to making Amazon successful would be hard and bitter but he always had his goal in mind. Even during these massive losses, Bezos didn’t quit and instead worked even harder to churn some profit.

In 2020, amidst this global pandemic, Amazon has collected more profit in the first nine months of 2020 than it did in the entire year of 2019.

This is what happens when people don’t stop trying. Bezos didn’t stop and over time, success keeps compounding.

This is the story of how one statistic redefined Jeff Bezos’ future.