“Curiouser and curiouser!”

In experience, investing, startups by satya

Just recently, a good friend told me to not apologize (yet again) for not blogging for so long. So, I won’t.

Much as I have been immersed in getting my startup, NextPrinciples, off the ground, there were a couple of articles that caught my eye recently which made me pick up my blogging pen again.

Before I point out the articles, I need to provide some context. About a year ago, right after I dived into the deep end of entrepreneurship, I was toying around with the idea of allowing consumers to collect their own purchasing history and use that (in combination with a number of other things) to drive more effective interactions with brands and retailers.

I went about trying to validate this idea with a number of folks, including some ‘pundits’ in the investment world. And the question I kept getting asked from the ‘expert’ investors was : “Where is the ability for the consumer to share his purchasing history? This idea is useless without this sharing feature – etc etc”.  Every time I heard this, I got even more confused. I was trying to imagine myself as an individual wanting to share my purchases (including amounts paid) with the rest of my family and friends. Much as I enjoy their company, I was convinced that I would bore them stiff with my not too exciting list of purchases. More importantly, I was not sure that I would be comfortable sharing this information.

You see, this was the time when the hype around startups like Blippy and Swipley was reaching epic proportions (see here and here for examples of balanced, rational reporting on significant amounts of capital invested in these hype-machines). I was a newcomer into the world of startups and seriously thought that I was missing out on what could be the most critical piece of the puzzle I was trying to solve. I ended up spending many cycles trying to figure out how to make this feature meaningful – but try as I might, I could not convince myself that this made any sense.

Fast forward about 12 months and I see this and this. Essentially, articles announcing the death of Blippy’s original idea and explaining how  “… it turns out that almost nobody wants people to check out their purchases” and “… no one cares what their friends are purchasing”. Really ??? You could knock me down with a feather :)

My ride through the world of entrepreneurship often makes me feel like Alice in Wonderland, especially when I read about or interact with some of the folks in the investment business. In this particular case, I feel like Alice after having drunk her tea laced with something strong.

Moral of the story : Stick with your beliefs even though others, particularly ‘intelligent’ and ‘we have seen it all and know better than you’ investors, may think you are dumb and/or not ‘innovative’. Obviously, there are some very smart investors out there whose inputs are very useful but beware of the lemmings. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Any incidents that you have encountered which either prove or disprove my thoughts would be very useful.

The same good friend told me to not promise (for the ‘n’th time) that I will start blogging regularly again, so I won’t. Until next time…