Posts Tagged ‘Web Applications’|
Tuesday, September 11th, 2012
There are two categories of people looking to start a business: those who have an idea and want to build it, and those who want to build something but haven’t found the right idea yet.
Each category has different challenges, but in this post I will focus on the latter. Where can you find a good idea? From my personal experience, good ideas are the result of good observation. We are often too busy working or doing something else to take a step back and look at how we execute the things that we do. If you take the time to try to observe yourself from the outside, you will probably find many inefficiencies in your execution. You will also notice that most of those inefficiencies come from the tools that you use.
Offline shopping, for instance, is very inefficient. You have to drive to a store, walk through the isles, choose from a limited-by-space amount of products, stand in line at the cashier and then drive back home. Looking at shopping from an efficiency point of view, it’s easy to see how Amazon (like other e-commerce sites) are a great idea.
SyncPad itself was born this way. Since expressing design changes over the phone or Skype was challenging, and emailing drafts and changes back and forth was a waste of time, I came up with a tool that could solve these inefficiencies. With SyncPad, I can now quickly share a sketch or an image while I’m on the phone, and the other person can work on it in real-time.
Of course isolating an inefficiency is only the beginning. Once you focus on a problem, the second factor you need to analyze is its potential market and value. Is this a problem that only you and a few others have, or is it common to billions of people? Dropbox is a great example of a product that solves a very common inefficiency: the need to easily access your data and documents from different places. Your need for a better tool to catalog your collection of Coke cans may not be as common. The size of the market itself is meaningless if it’s not associated with the value of your solution. If you can charge hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for your product, it’s ok if your market size is in the four digit range.
So start looking around for inefficiencies. Once you find one, try to understand how big the possible market would be for a solution to that inefficiency. Lastly, start talking to your potential customers to get an idea of the value of that solution.
Wednesday, June 16th, 2010
This may be old news for you, but I wanted to share it anyway on my blog. A couple of weeks ago I’ve been interviewed by Ryan Parsley on CloudPlumbing.com. We mostly spoke about some of the new projects I’m starting with 39 Inc. as well as the pros in building really focused applications.
You can find the full interview on CloudPlumbing.com.
Saturday, February 27th, 2010
I took some notes this year at FOWA, and I’d like to share with you some of the things I learned or found valuable at FOWA (Future of Web Apps). This first post is about what I learned from Fred Wilson‘s presentation. Wilson is the co-founder of Union Square Ventures, a smaller ($125 million in capital under management), newly formed, New York City based venture capital firm with investments in Web 2.0 companies such as Twitter, del.icio.us, Etsy, FeedBurner, Indeed.com, Disqus, Clickable and many others. In his presentation he highlighted ten points he finds critical for being a successful startup.
Speed: this is a critical factor for growth. Applications that aren’t fast don’t grow as fast as applications with better speed performances.
Instant Utility: your application has to be useful out of the box. Let the user see an immediate return for using your application.
Voice: you need to have a style, a personality. People need to feel like they are consuming a media. Just look at the way Wufoo communicates with their users, with very fun unusual messages.
Less is more: Your application has to be simple. Try to focus on one thing and do it very well. You can always add more features later. This helps speed as well.
Programmable: make it easy for other people to plug or build on top of your application. Your API should always be read/write. This is the reason why we integrated SquarePik with Foursquare only, and not Gowalla. Gowalla has a read-only API, making the applications built on it virtually useless.
Personal: make the experience feel personal. Even little things like avatars or personal profiles make users feel like they own part of the application. Think about how your perception of your Facebook page changed since they changed its URL from a number to your username. Now it’s not just a page in their system, it’s your personal page.
Restful: Fred used this term in a personal and incorrect way by his own admission. He thinks the entire application should have an easy URL system. You should be able to reach any page of your app via URL. That makes it easy to share and send to other people.
Discoverable: people need to be able to be find your application, via SEO or social media. At the end of the presentation, he also recommended the use of guerrilla marketing because of its cost effectiveness.
Clean: use big spaces, big fonts and don’t add too many functions on a page. It has to be very clear at any time what the user should do.
Playful: the ability to play in an application is very important. The game element can help the success of an application. Foursquare and Gowalla are really good examples of this. Even something as simple as a top contributor chart could be seen as a game.
What other things do you think are key for the success of a web application?