In my Evangelism role I speak with developers and start ups all day, but when the start up is being run by an old friend, I listen carefully. I’ve had the unique opportunity to observe my friends thoughts over a few years about developing a product or service based on his unique expertise and background over lunch or coffee. During this time his thoughts evolved from a series of observations, to an idea, and now into a product that’s currently in development with a bunch of eager customers he and the team have already lined up. What I’ve learned from him is another lesson of the power of focus.
Starting originally with observations of classic IT operational problems in big data centers, my friend and his partners iterated through a bunch of product ideas, beginning with using streaming media and voice communications to monitor IT operations staff. While doing this they came to a realization that they’d identified a powerful insight that’s driving their product’s core value: most problems they’d encountered are time based with location information and “who did what” being key data items. Exactly the kind of information that a mobile phone can provide.
Turning a classic IT problem inside out, rather than using traditional data gathering methods, they use the smartphone as the device that captures and encodes this information for their customers, turning what was a previously error prone and “after the fact” data collection problem into a real-time event creation captured using “point phone at thing (location, document, etc.), push button on UI, done”. It’s a brilliant application of using the smartphone in a novel way. By generalizing their observations after talking with a myriad of potential customers, they’ve actually moved to a different initial target market than IT operations.
He’s also applied some Evangelism principals we’ve discussed: like talking to customers early (evangelize early), he’s iterated rapidly on the core ideas (agile), he’s built a lean team (hire to your profile) and now he’s broadening the feedback loop (lunches with dudes like me…).
Looks like a success in progress, because the team is building an innovative product with a laser focus on maximizing via their core value.