Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Echo Chambers?

"What percentile of the population is your echo chamber"?

You know I sit here in my office working on all types of cutting edge technologies - mobile analytics, 2d bar codes, voip, open source software etc. My internal project that I've sunk a ton of money into requires you to have a netbook/wifi etc while watching baseball and chatting real time using xmpp on

I know only a few 'certain personalities' want to chat real time while watching baseball on tv and I accept that.

People i talk to day in day out are most likely also working on their own startups, music communities, mobile apps, gaming networks, cloud based web apps etc.

But when were you last in the real world?

I dont mean, when were you last at the local cafe with your startup support group buddies I mean the real real world?

Jodie and I are going for a New York state drivers licenses (lol been here 5 years and never had to drive since). After spending 2 hours lining up to do a 5 minute / 20 multiple choice question test - it was driving me crazy to see the ineptitude of the people working behind the counters and their poor business practices.

Are these my prospective customers?

(LOL for the guys on Newtech-1 working on NY Senate open source about going to the DMV and spending a week sorting out that place, being low hanging fruit and all, you would have a direct and immediate impact and all new yorkers would love you).

Here in New York you have to go for a 5 hour 'drivers ed' class as part of the license process (realistically it's 30 minutes of worthwhile information and the rest is a waste of time, oh and about 45 minutes of watching "Speed Kills" videos warning about the dangers of drag racing and speeding......).

So i'm sitting in the 'drivers ed' class - which is a converted shop front, crappy chairs a white board, filing cabinet, tire calendar pinned to the wall, 2 ancient pc's and a phone system from the 70's.

This company has an answering machine for voicemail and the website looks like it was designed by a teenager in the 90's using MS Paint (I picked them because they were close).

Are these my customers?

I've been thinking - why concentrate on the bleeding edge? Is there a business model bring the other 80% of the population into the current state of technology?

Who cares that 12 month old Twitter might be dead because of Wave? That social network 'X' is the new Facebook that was the new MySpace.

How can we make money out of providing 'a single entry accounting service' for Joes Driving School that prints his receipts out on laser printer, while keeping his financial records....rather than him manually writing them out.

Providing him a Raid 6 file server with off site storage so when his jerry rigged air conditioner burns the building he wont lose all his data.

Provide him a voip service that delivers his voicemails as emails and allows him to answer inbound calls in 'the shop front', from his mobile, or from his home SIP handset.

Implementing a website that is current in look and feel and browsing technology, allows online booking which uses customer provided update his financial books so he doesn't even need to re-enter the details manually into his books.

Does your technology help out Joes Driving School?

Is there money to be made here? or will it just be an evolutionary process that weeds out the technology neophytes, replacing them with computerised Acme driving school.

What percentage of the population are you targeting with your startup?


1 comment:

  1. A good post, but is missing one aspect.

    How are you going to reach your customers like that shop owner even if you develop for them? They are not going to go looking for your software exactly because they live in 70th.

    So, in some ways it makes sense to target those who come to you (by being on a web) than those you would have to chase down door to door.

    As to DMV, they are in that state because they don't want to change, not because they cannot. The software for everything they need already exists, just look at our own Australian driving tests.