A friend of mine is starting what can only be described as a combination of Facebook, Groupon, LinkedIn and Foursquare. He’s super excited and hasn’t talked to any potential customers yet.
I know a guy whose startup pivots twice a year, each time hoping to solve a problem that’s not really there. Now they’re cloning Yammer.
Some other guys had an idea, received validation from two potential clients, raised funding, hired a lot of people, built a product and discovered nobody really wants to pay for it.
What’s going on? Why does it feel like the lean startup movement has given a lot of people the license to produce crap?
On the other side you have teams producing amazing products. Take for example the Pebble smart watch, the DoubleRobotics telepresence robots, Appfog free PaaS hosting, SmugMug photo hosting, SixthSense or any random project on Kickstarter.
They are not doing the impossible, yet somehow they’re different. They stand out. What’s the secret?
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To build a successful business you need a great team, a good idea and a lot of hard work. Skip one and you’ll fail soon enough. It’s seems obvious, but it’s not always that easy. I spent years freelancing and doing side projects before my first real success. In every failure prior at least one of these elements was missing. It also seems to be the case here.
I’m sure the guys passionately producing crap have as many resources and as good of a team as the other ones. They’re just putting all of their energy into a bad idea, instead of using it to think of a better one.
Luckily this can be easily avoided. It’ll take some time, but it’s not hard.
“Exercise: come up with 10 ideas today. Then throw away the list. Come up with ten ideas tomorrow. And so on. I’ve written before: but in six months your life will be completely changed as a result.”
Try it. If you spend 3 months and write down 1000 ideas, do you think one of them will be better than creating the next photo sharing application? What about 6 months and 2000 ideas?
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Imagine a world where everyone who’s currently building a mobile group chat apps starts to create useful products or solve real problems instead.
Which world would you rather live in?
If you’re in a startup looking forward to your next pivot, please just stop. The world doesn’t need another way for consumers to connect with merchants or an app that adds double rainbows to blurry pictures.
Create real products or solve real problems instead! It’s not harder, it’s just different. Plus you can actually make a difference in someone’s life!
Cover photo credit: Joe Shlabotnik
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