Start Up Blog

A Tiny Twist

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on November 16, 2010

Today I sent this tweet which got quite a bit of comment:

There were over 400 video sharing websites when Youtube launched. Often it’s smarter to do it better, than build something new.

Immediately after the tweets started coming through about other businesses which entered the market late and taken a strong hold’.

The most recent example for me is Instagr.am

It’s ‘another’ photo sharing platform to add to the long list of mobile apps for doing just this, including but certainly not limited to Flickr, Twitpic, Yfrog, img.ly, Mobypicture…. I’m sure there are hundreds.

Next thing I knew all the photos being shared on my tweet stream had all converted to the Instagr.am format – so I had check it out. Turns out Instagr.am added a tiny twist which enabled it get busy with the ‘in’ crowd. By simply adding a filter feature, it made  photo sharing a whole lot more fun.  What filter does is transform the pic and stylise the look to give a retro feel, add few scratches and a white Polaroid frame and you’ve got the hottest new pic app on the entire web. It’s easy to use, and once again photo sharing has been reinvented.

So what’s the lesson here?

Design matters. In fact design is the thing that wins in the long run. Humans like things of beauty. It is coded in our DNA, we prefer the beautiful. Side note: beautiful is both usable and and nice to look at, it must have both.

Existing Market. Sometimes it’s easier to build a better version of something people are using, than to invent a new market. We don’t have to invest time convincing people it is worth participating. Rather, we just need to show them why we are superior. In an industry like we apps where the switching barriers are so low usability and design are often the catalysts for this to occur.

The question for startups is this: How do we sustain a leadership position against the next tiny twist?

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Why iterations matter

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 8, 2009

When it comes to startups iterations matter a lot. They are evidence of the business pulse. They mean we are progressing and building momentum.

But there are some deeper reasons why iterations matter so much. Iterations give us a reason to go back.  To go back to the market ‘our people’ and re-engage in a conversation. It gives us something to talk about,  stimulate interest and demand. To glean feedback from, regardless of who this conversation happens to be with. Our business is essentially a large complex set of conversations, and the changes we make facilitate them.

So who can we go back to with our iterations?

- Our customers who want to know how these iterations help them out

- Our employees who can get excited about the cool stuff they have been / will be working on

- Our suppliers who can get excited about the prospect of more business

- The media want to report on innovation, updates and the industry

Nintendo EvolutionPic via Alex Figueroa

All of these conversations stimulate our business, our industry and ultimately the market place. Our iterations have a much bigger impact than we think. It’s far more macro.

Iterations are social, and we are social creatures. If nothing has changed or improved, then we move on. It is human nature.


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