Posts Tagged ‘business planning’
I spotted a couple of things in my personal Twitter feed today that I thought would be relevant to this blog. Here they are:
Looking for funding? Forbes.com’s Martin Zwilling reports on Seven Investors To Avoid
Trying to do something new… or do something old in a new way? The Heart of Innovation blog reports on 50 Ways to Foster a Culture of Innovation (my favourite is number 5: ‘Make new mistakes’)
Last Friday Mike Butcher came into the Made by Many offices for a chat about this project.
As the Editor of TechCrunch Europe, Mike’s got a good view of what’s happening in the tech world. He also knows a few things about start-ups. For these reasons we were keen to walk him through what we’re planning and get his thoughts on the concept and the approach.
First, the big-picture stuff: is there space for this service?
We showed Mike a couple of user journeys to demonstrate how this free, collaborative, peer-to-peer knowledge exchange could work.
Right away, he understood what we were aiming for and was really positive about it… which was a relief. (If you have to explain your concept a few times, doubts begin to creep in about the soundness of it all…)
Like a lot of the people we spoke with at the outset of this project, Mike was quick to emphasise the importance of local knowledge and the challenge of sharing information and connections. The trick, he thinks, is getting in touch with that ‘golden contact’ — the person who knows who or what you need to know. If this service can help people do that, we think it could make a huge difference to the people who use it.
The importance of working with, not against, everything else
One of the things we’re looking at is how to integrate this service with what’s already out there. Mike was quick to bring this up. Shoehorning this into a busy digital marketplace without making any connections or synergies between this service and others, like Twitter, LinkedIn, Zing and so on, is just not a good idea.
Mike also mentioned of the importance of a viral loop: giving the people who have used the service a reason to come back and promote it. To do this, we need to build a service that does what it sets out to do and creates a lot of happy customers, but one that is also easy to promote: if users have to work to share it, they won’t.
If we make this service super share-able, we could help people make online and offline communities on their own, as they find each other — for example, all the people who use a certain resource in the service might connect to talk about how they can help each other. We like this idea a lot.
Nitty-gritty stuff: how to go about it
Like us, Mike thinks having an open API is a great idea. It’s crucial we get this right from the start, rather than bolt it on later. It’s also critical that the API is simple — Twitter’s API is a great example of this.
In keeping with our aim to make our service super-workable with other services, we should think carefully about how we release data that other developers can do things with.
For example, when people are at a place or event, they do things — they Tweet, update their Facebook status, write blog posts, etc — that create data. That data can be captured and put to work, so when someone else goes back, they can see who’s been there and done what… and create connections. We’ve got to make this a part of what we build.
Towards the end of our chat we started talking about failure. I’ve blogged about this over on the Made by Many blog, so I won’t repeat myself, but I will say that for me, this was the most interesting part of our conversation.
Most people are afraid to fail, and that in turn makes them risk-averse. Mike suggested we use this service as an opportunity to get the word out that failure isn’t necessarily a disaster, and in fact, is often a big step on the road to success. He cited the Silicon Valley start-up motto of ‘fail fast’ and James Dyson’s line, “I always make interesting mistakes” as examples of fail-friendly language — the kind of language we need more of. As a writer, this is something I need to think about when I put together the copy for this service.
Mike’s final comment on our project was, “It’s a long game with a long tail.” One-off satisfied customers are not enough. We need to give people a reason to return and share content (on the site) and experiences (of the site); we also need to build it in a way that makes it easy for it to go viral (sticky content, low barrier to entry, ease of use; quality content). Tall order, but we’re up for the challenge.
All in, we got a lot out of this chat — huge thanks to Mike Butcher for taking the time to come in and take a look at our project.
Here’s an update on the project. It includes some stats on the market’s need for a service like this, as well as more information on how the service would work. There are also three user journeys.
All of this is subject to change as the service evolves, but for the most part, this is where we’re headed.
If anything in this presentation resonates with you, please feel free to jump in with a comment.