“You’re small, you don’t need that.”

If you said five years ago, “I’m going to make an app where you can upload any photo or video you want right from your phone and it will be shared with all your friends — hundreds, thousands, millions of them — instantaneously,” people would probably think you’re crazy. They’d think, “Yeah, good luck reinventing Facebook, dum dum.”

Yet it’s 2016 now and Instagram isn’t aspirational anymore. For new startups, it’s the baseline.

I’ve been working at a stealth-mode startup for the past two months building an amazing product, and as I research new technologies and platforms, especially when it comes to data, I keep hearing the same refrain: “you’re small, you don’t need that.”

I’d like to wake these people up to reality.

The truth is that a lot of cutting edge tools (Hadoop, Spark, Kafka, etc.) are designed by the biggest tech companies for ridiculously high throughput and availability. Does my fledgling little startup that has zero real users need to process 2 million messages per second? No. But these same companies are also innovating new patterns that enable these tools to be used to solve really hard technical problems.

It’s the patterns that interest me and the it’s the patterns that all companies can benefit from immediately, whether big or small. Because even if you’re a tiny fish in the sea, you’re still dealing with problems that were barely thought of five years ago.

Big data is hard, but small data has become really hard, too.

Those problems might be on a tiny scale, but they still exist and they still need to be dealt with. And if you ever hope to make it big, you’ll need to understand those patterns when it comes time to scale.

Whether it’s in tech or out of tech, don’t let anyone ever tell you “you don’t need that, you’re too small.” Stay curious, stay diverse, stay humble, stay weird.

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