At the beginning of 2020, I'm in the mood of starting some new content series and a related newsletter.
As I'm an avid podcast listener, I collect my personal cherry-picked quotes from shows I listen to. These are mainly episodes about software, entrepreneurship, startups and business.
I was thinking about just sharing a few quotes per issue, but I suppose niching down the scope of each edition might make more sense.
There are tons of great insights that are spoken in a collateral "thinking-out-loud" manner, usually in shows you wouldn't normally look for them.
Looking for ways to provide value to readers, I came up with the following format:
I pick one theme concept/piece of wisdom and write a short narrative supported by quotes I got from podcasts.
My idea is to curate and combine them in a coherent, themed series.
I think the target audience includes indiehackers, founders, entrepreneurs, and VPs of product.
To get you a sneak peek of what I'm up to, here is a draft of the first essay:
Look for existing market momentum
It might seem counterintuitive, but being an innovator or, even worse, an evangelist is not crucial to building something people want.
Often, you will be much better off entering the existing market where others already paved the way. It is known as "The Last Mover Advantage", and it entails also avoiding r&d cycles your competitors have already failed at.
Marc Andreessen, in a16z podcast episode "Why We Should Be Optimistic the Future" points out that this pattern is more common than we think
"Every successful technology I'm aware of, you know the things that are like all of a sudden like the next big thing like the iPhone in 2007 or just an example, they all have this incredible 25, 40 or 50 years backstory to them that you sometimes have to go back and excavate."
As other examples, Mark mentions video conferencing technology that first surfaced in the 1960s, first smartphone concepts by RadioShack from 1982, or even fiber optic technology, which has its beginning in 1840 in Paris.
Marc concludes that
It's less a question of what the new idea is, as it turns out the idea is probably already out there somewhere.
These were the examples of succesful hardware, that have been around quite for a while before it actually took off. Can we find similar cases in the software industry?
David Cancel, CEO of Drift suggest that Slack is the best example of the right market timing with a relatively little innovative product. The interview he gave in Software Engineering Daily episode is spot-on
There are different technologies that we use but, Slack is from a use case standpoint is not different than IRC 25 years ago, right? I often show people inside our engineering and product team who don't know what IRC is, and never used it, a screenshot of an IRC client from 20 years ago and then Slack next to each other and they're blown away. They're like, “It's exactly the same. Everything is the same.” They have never seen that. I'm like, yeah.
I remember IRC, do you? :) Anyway, it's interesting how many messaging communicators existed before Slack, but somehow none of them managed to achieve such high market share. Sure enough, Slack has done particular things incredibly well, such as an API-first approach and allowing for multiple third-party tools integrations. Still, the core functionality wasn't something new.
We had technology like that 25 years ago, but we had subscale markets as a million of us using it, or five million or whatever the number was. Now billions are using. The reason it matters is that the behavior change has already happened. It's now normal and now you can build something in a much larger ecosystem, and I think for entrepreneurs and engineers who want to build something really pay attention to is there momentum already in the world happening that I can apply this to, versus trying to create your own momentum from scratch.
We arrive at the conclusion - leveraging existing market momentum is a shortcut compared to being someone who starts the momentum. Getting back to Marc Andreessen talk, I think the following line from the mentioned a16z podcast serves a good wrap up:
It's less the question of when it's going to work, it's more the question of when it's going to work right
Do you find it valuable? Is there anything you'd change? Would you subscribe to get it to your inbox every two weeks? If it sucks, tell me why :)
I'd love to hear your feedback. Thanks in advance! :)