14 Under 40: Today’s Most Influential People

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#13 – James Park (CEO, Fitbit)

James Park
Image: Time

In the past people believed someone who hadn’t finished his studies didn’t stand a chance at making it big in life. Well, that has changed! Like many other young geniuses out there, when Park cut short his computer science degree at Harvard College, he had great things for himself in mind. Along with his partner in crime, Eric Friedman, James Park has been pretty damn close to quitting at launching their idea of a small wearable device that used sensors to track fitness activity, a startup full of hope and not much else in its beginnings. But they didn’t. Through the multiple problems they’ve had to face, with, for example, the design and right functioning of an antenna, they’ve stayed strong and focused.

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Fitbit first sold directly to customers, a scheme that resulted in good margins for the company but that Park knew well enough not to stop at. Audaciously, they teamed up with great partners to definitely catapult the product to its ongoing success, one that is clearly out of their original comfort zone of direct sales. From there, difficulties have continued to come up, because in more ways than one a new product is similar to a new baby, with all its day to day worries, pains, demands and of course, accomplishments. The future? With Fitbit controlling approximately 70% of the market share, the company is now looking to make devices that measure and diagnose according to the user’s specific needs.

Bits of Knowledge: Don’t settle, don’t quit! New and more difficult challenges will come up, but face them, not by going for the easy path, but by finding ways to exceed even your own expectations through innovation and risk taking. That might end up being the shift you need.

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