I think this is one of the most important things a startup can do – be clever. Most ideas and startups aren’t that interesting when you get down to it. They just try to take a slightly better approach to solving the same problem. It’s not that those companies end up becoming bad businesses either, but they’re missing that special something. The best startups tend to have something really clever in their early days that make people do a double take. Airbnb? Let people turn their existing homes into a “hotel room” and extra income. Zenefits? Give people free software in order to get the rights to health insurance. Instacart? Deliver groceries on-demand by using existing retail as warehouses instead of building your own warehouse. The list goes on and on, but many of the best startups end up doing something very clever to become a breakout hit. It’s the…Continue Reading
I’m a big fan of deeplinking – it takes the best of the web, the ability to seamlessly jump from site to site, and brings it to mobile apps. Many such as Facebook, Google, and URX are trying to move deeplinking forward by making it easy for developers to implement them. Here’s an example of how it works: I’m in the Google Maps app and I tap get an uber, which launches uber. Another example might be opening a link to a tweet on the mobile web and instead of it opening the mobile web version of the tweet, it opens the Twitter app. As you can see deeplinks need to happen or apps will continue to sit in silos. In short deeplinks solve a very simple problem: letting apps talk to each other and open one another just like webpages There is one fatal flaw: The user must have…Continue Reading
I ask every single founder I get to spend time with one on one, a very simple, yet important question: “What will your product and as a result, the world, look like in 5-10 years if your company is wildly successful?” It seems like an open-ended question, right? Well it’s meant to be, but you can clearly tell which founders are going to build something big by the answer or those that are building something much more short term. It also surfaces those that are obsessed with the product. It’s very related to a question Hunter Walk asks many founders. http://hunterwalk.com/2014/11/18/the-most-difficult-question-i-ask-founders/ Here are the things I look for in the answer: An overarching ambitious vision that is way bigger than what you’d see today If you saw AirBnB in 2009 without talking to the founders, you’d think of it like Couchsurfing in terms of vision – impressive yet limited. I…Continue Reading
The photo for this article shows Gordon Gekko from Wall Street with a cell phone. In the 1980s, this was a toy for the super elite and rich. If you knew someone with a cell phone, they were loaded. Now, 2 billion going on to 4 billion people will have a cell phone. So, what do Uber, Tesla, and Apple all have in common with Gordon Gekko’s cell phone? They all started out as companies making products that were for the 1% and often touted as just “toys”, but now they are (or soon will be) available to the 99%. The most successful services start out as products for the 1%, but have visions that scale them to the 99%.. I apologize for the baity headline – by no means am I suggesting building a product that stays for the 1% forever, but starting with the 1% as your minimum…Continue Reading
The last mile is defined as the movement of people and goods from a transport hub to a final destination in the area. Think of it as the UPS shipment from Amazon’s Warehouse or UPS hub to your doorstep. It’s often the most difficult part of e-commerce logistics. It’s also what creates the most friction. People like to order online, yet only 6.6% of all retail sales were done online in the past quarter. Waiting a day or more for the gratification of buying something is more friction filled for 95% of the population (general statement) than getting in your car and driving to the store. That’s all going to change in the next ten years as we can subjectively agree that ordering something from your phone or your computer is much easier than going to an actual store. Well within ten years, I believe we will be able to…Continue Reading