Archive for the ‘ideas’ tag
That ideas are worth nothing without good execution is well demonstrated from this true story from way back in 2005. In a span of a few months, I independently came across the same compelling idea thrice.
The first time was while visiting the Bay Area, when I met my friend Sorav (now professor of computer science at IIT Delhi) at Stanford. Sorav and his buddies at Stanford had a kind of a startup club which met weekly to discuss new prospective business ideas. The week I was there, I got invited to that meeting. The idea that got discussed was of to develop a group messaging sms service. It was supposed to be like the yahoo groups of mobile phones so you could send out an sms and it would reach all your friends who could continue a group conversation using SMS. The idea excited everybody and I think we even continued to discuss it when I got back to India. But that was the end of it.
I heard something similar a second time when I met Saad around mid-2005. Saad and I had connected with each other via our blogs and decided to catch up and brainstorm ideas (in those days, Saad actually used to carry around a brainstorming kit, don’t know if he still has it!). Anyway, the idea was to see what we could do together. Saad mentioned that it would be cool if there was a way to share stuff in real time with rest of the world using the mobile phone. The specific example that Saad gave was, to quote him loosely, “Imagine if I could take a photograph of this room with my phone, and send out a message saying where I was, with whom and what we were doing”. It was supposed to be like a real time blog. The scenarios we discussed were sporting events or other situations where it would be cool or useful to be able to let the world know where we were and what we were doing. Both of us thought it was a really neat idea but nothing came out of it.
The third time I heard something similar was from Alok. We were discussing social networks and Alok mentioned that he felt that a mobile based social network would have lot of potential. After all, everybody’s social graph already exists in their phone book and leveraging that an interesting social networking concept could be developed. Once more, the idea sounded appealing but nothing came out of it.
Note that none of the three situations above were just drawing room conversations. I was in the business of building web based software and actively scouting for ideas. Technically, we could have actually accomplished what we had discussed and in fact a team already existed that could have executed any of these ideas. And of course, this was much before twitter came in to existence or became popular. All the three ideas above were similar to what twitter enabled eventually. The fact that I alone came across this idea thrice in that short span of time just shows that hundreds of people must have gone through a similar thought process at that time. It was obvious that mobile based social interactions were the next big thing. And yet, only one twitter emerged out of it.
So, the moral of the story is that if we could get a penny for our ideas, we would all be millionaires! We often give too much importance or credit for a good idea. But the real test lies in executing an idea, taking it to the market, refining it and building it into a success.
Oh, by the way, did I tell you that youtube was also my idea?