Tag Archives for Alexia Tsotsis
How did Instagram do it? They are not the only image-sharing app. People with MBA backgrounds are stuck in the dark ages.
Yes, I said it. The MBA, as far as I can tell, is a lot like paper wealth. It looks good when it’s all printed out, and stacked in rows, but the secret to success in business is actually something emotional and more to do with people.
If you want to run a good startup, it’s important to think like a social worker. I don’t mean enforce the laws of a state or a city. I mean, think with empathy. Decide by feeling.
I come to this conclusion after reading about a talk at Le Web led by the founder of Instagram, Kevin Systrom.
“In the last 2 months we’ve doubled staff, and will be about 10 people in a month. Even though Odeo didn’t go anywhere, it was clear that Twitter cam about because we learned ‘Team’ was so important.”
He also recalled how another failed project Bourbon failed not because they had a moment of revelation that it wasn’t going to work, but that they didn’t have that moment. “There wasn’t a dark moment with Bourbon. It’s the lack of that dark moment that kills most startups.”
Tsotsis pointed out that photo apps and filters existed before Instagram, so how did they get big? Instagram just made it easier to produce beautiful photos, as well as share, said Systrom.
But what if Apple of Facebook did an app with filters?
Instagram is not about filters, said Systrom. “The defensible asset is the community, nowhere else would you find such passionate users.”
TechCrunch writer Alexia Tsotsis gets stuck on just the marketing angle, or the product description, of Instagram. Product descriptions and marketing are just shorthand, they don’t mean anything. That’s why we have to have these founders up on stage explaining themselvse and the product now and again, over and over.
The last time Tsotsis thought that a photo-sharing app was just another photo-sharing app, I had to correct her. This was the case with Hipster. It’s not like there should only be one photo-sharing app, and that one does it better than all the rest. In the apps world, and in social media, startups can’t compete on performance.
Why? Because it always comes down to the consumer. It’s about WHO is using the product, and HOW, not what the product is. I know this is hard to swallow, but it’s the truth. It’s the world we live in.
If you want to run a really great company, spend all of your time, or at least 90% of your time, making relationships work. Be a good person, find the people you share values with, and do not succumb to the thinking that you have to run a tight ship to really run a successful enterprise.
I learned this from traveling. Your best laid plans and expectations can have other plans and expectations for you.
What we really need when buying or hiring a special service or good is a sense that we belong to the same base of people who buy it with us. We want shared values, because our media and our news, for example, don’t provide us such faith anymore.
Updated with Comments from Bob Moesta
Before you read what we wrote yesterday, here’s an important update from Bob Moesta of the Re-Wired Group. When you read through this, consider that Hipster is a product that moves one step of evolution from its previous incarnation. It’s a reaction to other location-based photo-sharing apps. What is it doing for this market? What is Hipster doing for Hipster? Why would someone choose it? You can visit the Hipster site here.
What is sometimes difficult to understand in the real starting point of the consumer. In hind sight many things are “better” than they expected, and the features and benefits are explicit not valued going in are now valued, but consumption starts with choice and the value is defined in the moment of that choice. A loaded product or service out of the gate rarely works or creates the value of the sum of it parts. The design of the experience from first thought in the consumers mind to change, to candidates she considers, to the way the choice was made to the actual usage, need to be explicit and deliberate.Two warnings: 1. People who have not bought are very dangerous and misleading. My experience is that people want a lot of things, but actual value and choice are very different dimensions that they espouse.2. Your best users will lead you astray and build barriers to the “non-consumers or build “non-consumption” (people who want to buy but don’t).What we do to get around this problem when we research why people really buy, and why they ask products to do a job for them: We talk to people who just purchased or switched, the fresher the better. By interviewing them in a granular way, we slow the purchasing and choosing process way down and put the story into a cinematic time line from the first explicit thought through to the “now” moment. This helps us capture the physical, emotional and social angles of the story. Focus on why did they change? What were the cues? We lay out the “progress equation”, who or what were the candidates, and how did they choose? (What is the value equation at the moment of choice). Do this 5 to 20 times. Embedded in the stories are the design requirements and the keys to successful products. 95% of new products fail, a majority because they are over designed and over-capitalized because they have been designed from a hind sight perspective, not a going in perspective.
People often search for places, things, or people with whom they can create a story. Right? You go on vacation becuase you want an adventure and youw ant to bring something immaterial, but psychically valuable, back to the place you began your journey.
In a recent article about re-launched location-based app Hipster, I think Alexia Tsotsis missed the lede. She asked “Do we really need another location-based photo sharing app?” I thought about that for a second, as I read her interview with Doug Ludlow, Hipster CEO, and I thought, “Forest. Trees.” That’s not what is going on with Hipster, in my consumer-centric point of view.
Let’s start with our idea of home. Home is the place where you process what happened so that you can live with the meaning and the realizations that your experience gave you. This new app, Hipster, looks like it’s trying to bring all that data being processed for those memories live, at the place where they are happening. Home is also a concept. This blog is one of my homes. I bring images, ideas, links and other people’s ideas back to this home. I process their meaning here, because I can’t do it anywhere else. I am not There.
Here’s an excerpt from the TechCrunch interview with Ludlow:
When asked the question in bold above [Do we really need another location-based photo sharing app?], which is likely to be any logical person’s first question upon seeing the product, Hipster CEO Doug Ludlow replied, “Sending a postcard is the first step in Hipster’s very, very long journey, and we decided to start this journey with a feature that is fun, beautiful and viral.”
Ludlow says that the company’s eventual goal is to capture “the most important information, the most fascinating people, and the most interesting moments that take place in the locations around us,” and eventually hopes that people will pull out Hipster to get a good sense of the stories surrounding a given location. The postcards are just a “wedge feature” he emphasizes, a way to get people to actually use the service.
A consumer would love this product, if that consumer is in the market to know what he can learn by being in a present place in a moment of time.
Ludlow’s view of what happens in a location is a kind of game changing proposition: that you can crowdsource your own sense of a place, by pulling in the strands of other people’s experiences. I imagine that the postcard delivery part of it is a kind of memory-spawning SEO. If I send something out, something will be returned to me.