The wild wild west

1890cowgirl.317132737_stdOne of my favorite activities around the end of August is reading the September fashion magazines.  Elle magazine turns 30 this year.  I remember when the first issue made its way to the states.  This particular issue highlights what people thought 30 years ago vs today around politics, fashion, religion, workplace, etc.  Certainly interesting data but not that surprising.  Times change and so do people’s thoughts or perceptions around all of these topics.

Certainly the Internet has shifted everything particularly the landscape for companies, employment and the impact of our daily life.  In 1996 there were 35 million people using the web and now there are 3 billion.  Think about that.  Companies have been built around those eyeballs.  Products that we did not even know we needed but now can’t live without.  It is one thing to grab market share in a mature industry yet it is another thing to grab market share on a platform that grows daily.

I keep thinking about the companies that come across my desk that are consumer driven….although if you really think about it everything is to some degree.  Everyone of those founders believe that they are creating something that will grab some of those eyeballs.  That their platform will be the next one huge winner.  That their product will end up in millions of peoples hands.  Then there are the investors who back them because they believe that product is the one that will become big fast or will be a game changer due the technology that is embedded in the product.

There are many reasons that some of these companies succeed, fail or become large, medium or small.  Sometimes it is purely about execution but most of the time it is about time, place, team, investors…and the perfect storm.  When I think about the Internet use in our daily lives (people say that they use social media over 3 hours a day) We are living through a global wild wild west that is changing our future.  Even the global companies that started small in 1999 must continue to be innovative to stay relevant.  Every day someone else is tossing a new idea into the ring.  Betting on the right horse isn’t so easy but it certainly makes for some great conversation.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Jess Bachman

    I think about this too, a lot. I think its pretty sad that we need a perfect storm for a problem to be solved. Or rather for a solution to be a success, for investors. The for-profit nature of the startup ecosystem has totally warped what success looks like, so solutions that don’t scale don’t get solved, by startups. We have so many problems left to solve that scaling should not even be part of the conversation. For every Snap Chat we really need a 500 Hot Bread Kitchens, but since HBK relies on donations, that’s not going to happen. It’s easy to look at tech and say it’s a huge disruption to every industry, until you look around, and really try to see between the TechCrunch headlines… at what isn’t be disrupted. What can’t and won’t be disrupted. Because tech is wedded startups, which are wedded to venture capital.There are exceptions for sure, but with the power of tech, I would hope these exceptions would be the rule, and not just exceptions./rant

    1. Gotham Gal

      A perfect storm can also be around a smaller company that becomes a healthy 30m biz

      1. Jess Bachman

        Where are the investors saying they would be happy with a 30m outcome.But the bar is still too high there. What bout the 3m biz, the 300k biz, the 30k biz, the 3k biz? I’d rather have 10,000 people solving smaller problems at 3k each than one solving one problem at 30m.

        1. Gotham Gal

          The 3m is tough for an investor. In the old days banks gave those type of companies loans. I applaud those businesses but they aren’t ones I would invest in

          1. Jess Bachman

            That’s really my point Joanne. Tech is so integrated with investment outcomes now that the long tail of problems is largely ignored.

          2. Drew Meyers

            Agreed. Too many people solving the same problems. And, imho, too many people simply trying to waste people’s time rather than tackle real problems in need of a solution:

    2. Kirsten Lambertsen

      On the other hand, I look around and it seems to me like we are solving more of these problems than ever before!

      1. Jess Bachman

        I think we are solving more than ever before…. but, I don’t think the rate we are solving them is keeping up with the rate of technological change. We need more Kickstarters and tools for normal people to EFFECT change.. and less.. well.. whatever is coming out of YC these days,

    3. Eric Woods

      One might posit that solving some of these “unscalable” problems would be strategically aligned with financial investors seeking scale. As a population moves up the socio-economic ladder, there is a greater than 1X1 effect on the overall consumer pool, making the scalability, and probability of success, of their investments more possible. Or maybe I’ve just not had enough coffee yet today….

      1. Jess Bachman

        You are affording investors an uncharacteristic amount of foresight here 😉

        1. Eric Woods

          Like musicians who give away songs so that fans will buy concert tickets, ring tones and t-shirts.

    4. Cam MacRae

      What really kills me is that for every snapchat there are 100 otherwise outstanding teams wasting cycles on a crummy workalike.

      1. Drew Meyers

        Ditto. What a shame.

  2. Shawn McDonald

    Have you ever thought about how Self-help changed from books to Self-help videos when VCR become part of our lives? Today our smartphone – can “see, hear and talk”. Smartphone technology just like the VCR are helping us improve with a wave of wearable and health apps. But these solutions are the “wild, wild, west” of what is possible. At FeedbacK our former NASA engineers are building next generation solutions that allow your smartphone to be a Coach.FeedbacK’s solutions are for sports participants who don’t want to hire a coach or App that provides data. FeedbacK’s mobile and online Apps represent a new approach to $11B self-help industry by videoing a motion and then providing automated coaching to help the Do-it-yourself learner improve.Unlike our competitors who provide data, FeedbacK’s Apps provide automated coaching instruction. We do this using the latest computer vision and machine learning techniques combined with leveraging the video functionality that is already part of our smartphones.A future with Apps that “coach” us to improve is not far away! Pretty cool stuff!

    1. Gotham Gal

      Super cool

      1. Shawn McDonald

        We are building a company that is passionate about make this a reality. Check out and we are always looking for the “right” investor 🙂

    2. Drew Meyers

      Do you think an app can coach a person the same way another human being can? I think the self help industry underestimates the power of the social pressure of not letting someone down as a motivator to change. Can an automated coaching app be built? Absolutely. Can it be sold. Sure. But will it lead to real successful change in people’s lives? Well, that’s the real question to me.