This impressive article written by Aaron Nemoyten, he is author @ Startupism.com
Now that we actually have something to show off which demonstrates that we kind of know what we’re doing, Alex and I have decided to get back into the habit of attending meetups.
Meetups are strange beasts. A bunch of people, bound by a broad common interest, lack of other social outlets and/or real industry connections, gather to awkwardly talk about their ideas, their plans for the future, and to try to figure out who is a potential employee, coworker, manager, cofounder, contractor, and/or insane person to be avoided at all costs.
Meetups are also a good place for newbies to go to learn the ropes of the industry they’re trying to get into. I don’t consider myself an expert by any means, but after months of constant reading and research, I’m not doing too poorly.
One of the types of people you may run into at a meetup is what I will call Newbie Idea Guy. Newbie Idea Guy is somewhat aware of the industry, but doesn’t know a lot about it. He comes up with a bunch of ideas that either already exist, or that are slight variations on something that already exists. Confronted by evidence that his (or her, I guess, though I’ve honestly never run into any women like this) idea is not unique, he will defend its uniqueness with some kind of circular argument that “yes, but I’d make it better/different” without any kind of clarification as to how.
As a bonus, you may find that Newbie Idea Guy thinks his idea of copying a web site “but better” is so valuable that he won’t even tell you what’s going to be better about it without talking about NDA’s.
Thus I come to what I will call, for the sake of this post, Conceptual Algebra.
In the case of a meetup I recently attended, there was a Newbie Idea Guy who wanted to build a travel site. Nevermind that he has no technical or design experience – as a business-degree-holding-recent-Bay Area-transplant, he wants to get into A MARKET. On THE INTERNET. It will work because “we’ll do it better,” and of course the “doing it better” task would actually go to whichever lucky audience member is allowed to work with Newbie Idea Guy on his AMAZING IDEA.
Market != Idea.
Also: Market != Business Strategy.
For my next equation, we will examine a more intricate situation. A person with technical knowledge and boundless enthusiasm has an idea for something that is very useful in theory, but requires a lot of user participation. In fact, it only works with a lot of user participation involving people looking at, and interacting with, content their friends have created.
The problem with strategies like this is that they do not work. (That’s a pretty important problem!)
Most of them have been focused on music: I can create playlists on Amazon.com or other music services, which my friends can marvel at. In theory.
In practice, my friends know what music I listen to already. They do not need to look at a list on a third party web site on the internet. They know I listen to a bunch of weird music and a bunch of pop music, and they either think that’s cool or they don’t. I’m going to tell them what I think they would like in regular communication, NOT redirect them to my online play list.
Okay, so how can something like this potentially work?
Well, it would have to be a much more specific use. A narrow target market who is already interested in sharing, in interacting. A market of people who value communication amongst peers in a formal, controlled context, especially input in regards to whatever their interests are.
But then again, most of that would have to be *a feature* on a much larger community web site (see my previous post on this blog about that!). For instance, a cooking community site could easily make use of top ten lists for recipes – people who cook always want new ones and love sharing their knowledge.
At any rate, I asked this person with this idea what his target demographic was.
“Oh, you know, 18-35 year olds, independent, well-employed…”
No, no, and no. This is the market that EVERYONE wants a piece of, but it’s damn hard to get anything out of us. We’re immune to advertising. Things that work take time, and we’re very picky about adapting technologies and habits. I could go on.
Idea – Market = 0
A decent idea targeted at the wrong market will go nowhere. Guaranteed.
For my third, and saddest, example, I’m going to have to get even more hypothetical.
Say you’ve got great technical skills. You’ve built something VERY impressive from a technical perspective, but those who are immediately impressed by it are also the least likely to use it. In other words, it’s a complex thing that makes it easy to do something that geeks need more control over than it gives them.
Interesting Read Continues Here