The attention economy

My regular readers will know that 2 weeks ago I released a video of a Lego Space Shuttle that we got into actual space. Quite frankly I was surprised at how much attention it got both on-line and in mainstream media (TV, newspaper, magazine & radio). It has had over 1 million views on Youtube alone. It really got me thinking about what tends to win attention in today’s connected economy, and although I don’t really know the answer, it feels more like simply joys and personal interest work better on line than commercial intentions or hard nosed value equations.

And while I’d much rather one of my businesses get this amount of coverage – it has lead to a lot of interesting business opportunities and offers. The attention generated has become its own asset. It has become a proof point in the people behind it and so it creates intrigue from others who want to simply do cool stuff.

So the question for startup entreprenuers is this:

What cool side projects can we do to generate attention around, so that our bigger ideas can attract the resources they need?


Our Space Project

You may remember that I met a guy on line called Raul – the Rocketeer from Romania which I posted about.

Well we did our project up. Which was not just fun, but a world first. Again it wasn’t a revenue project, just a fun cool thing that is possible with the all cheap technology we have today.

What was it? We sent a Lego Space Shuttle into Space. Into Orbit, 130,000 feet above earth and retrieved it via GPS. We filmed it with a Go Pro camera. Our mini tribute to the now defunct Space Shuttle Program. See video below.

A quirky Fact – we had to super glue to pieces together so that the ship would survive the 200km per hour winds in the stratosphere.

The really cool thing, is that Raul Oaida has become an overnight celebrity in Romania and was featured in the evening news as well as on the front page of their national newspaper below.

There is a lot we can learn from this little micro project. Raul has a massive entrepreneurial spirit. He worked day and night to get the launch up on a tight timeline, and even bootstrapped many of the issues we had before the launch. In fact, he organised a trip to Germany, which was the only country who would give us air traffic clearance to do it in Europe. We both used our different skills sets: Raul was the science man – he did all the hard stuff. I was the ideas man, the Venture Capitalist – I came up with the concept, funded it and worked with Raul on delivering the project. The really great thing is that we matched our skills to create something of value (albeit non-financial). Less than 10 years ago none of this would have been possible, and we never would have found each other (which was via Skype).  Very cool.

The kicker – my new mini project is with Raul as the Chief Engineer- and if you think this was cool, the next thing we do is going to blow you away. Stay tuned.