Listening to the Dead Bodies

Your idea is probably not as original as you think. In fact, if it’s any good, someone has tried and failed to execute against it least once before. This isn’t something to be discouraged by. In fact, there are many stories the dearly departed are trying to whisper to the next entrepreneur but they need to listen to hear them.

We started looking closely at location based services back in 2005. There were a lot of really exciting applications under development back then. Virtual graffiti, location aware offers for local businesses, sema codes, and mobile social networks. At the time these mobile services were tied to a mobile ecosystem that was tightly controlled by carriers and handset manufacturers. The metaphor most of these services used to pinpoint a user or virtual item was a longitude and latitude coordinate.

Fast forward to 2009. Dennis and Naveen launched Foursquare. They were not the first attempt at a location aware social network, but they learned a few lessons from the their fallen a predecessors. First, they launched a native iPhone app. This wasn’t an available option for the prioneers who struggled mightily to find favor in the eyes of carriers. Second, they observed that longitude and latitude were not very interesting. Specific locations, their names, their categories, gave a social context you just can’t find in a dot on a map or a string of numbers. The dead bodies were whispering and Dennis and Naveen were listening.

There are a lot of different reasons companies fail. Bad timing, lousy execution, poorly designed product, crummy snacks in the break room. But, all those deceased companies have a story to tell if you’re listening.

Originally posted to