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Doing It Right, Not First (andrewdumont.me)
67 points by andrewdumont 1819 days ago | hide | past | web | 18 comments | favorite

Keep in mind too, that "doing it right" involves much more than "just" solving the problem. It's at least as important to let people know that you've solved a problem that they have. It wasn't Instagram's software that Facebook paid $1B for, it was the people using the software.

"Doing it right" involves doing the marketing right, and doing the customer acquisition right, and doing the customer support right, as well as getting the UX/UI right and choosing the right scalable backend and using elegant algorithms.

Often the customer acquisition and marketing are _way_ more important than elegant algorithms and scalable software stacks (cue Facebook and PHP discussions…).

Something anyone working on a startup idea should bear in mind. You may find similarities out there to what you have vision to do once you get started working with your idea. However, it is helpful to realize that just because something is similar to you does not mean that it has to be the same. Adding your own personality, twists to the product that differentiate yourself, and your own insight as well can set you apart from others. That's getting it right by focusing less on what others do with their ideas and more on what you want to do with yours. Focusing more on innovation & less on the competition is a much better way to succeed in the long-run.

I agree.

Everyone is focused on finding the latest hot niche. They never realise that the old boring stuff still has a lot of potential.

The older a segment/market/product/service is the easier it is to innovate.

People call me crazy when I tell them my first product is about email marketing. But I'm convinced that my take on it is an improvement.

PG's startups we'd like to fund talks about this in an amazingly simple way.

It's not even clear that you have to do it right.

I think a lot of people would point at Facebook and PHP and say "yr doin' it wrong!"

I think Zuck got very lucky with that one, php happened to be available when he was first "playing around" with social websites, and available hosting was just getting fast enough cpu for it to become practical to run larger and larger systems with it. These days they've pretty much painted themselves into a corner with it, and their HipHop work is a probably very carefully chosen alternative to a ground-up rewrite in scalable-serverside-tenchiques-de-jour…

But no-one can argue that they're not the 800lb gorilla of the social network vertical today. There might well be other people out-competing Facebook in the "fine dining" markets, but Facebook certainly have the "fast food" social network space sewn up pretty tight. (And when the value is the size and connectedness of the social graph, that's the bit I'd want to own first too)

Agreed. Like I always tell my men and women when we're trying to build something:

"It's not going to be the first one. It sure as hell can't be the best one. But I promise you, it will be another one."

People are missing that the options aren't "Doing it {first|best}.", they're "Doing it{ first.| best.|.}"

The best example of this theory is, for me, Dropbox.

Apple iphone for me ... people had been doing smart phones/pdas for donkey years ... and they came along and simply blew everything else away. It was uncanny because it seemed like such a mature space, but they just made everything else look like bricks.

I still remember my first time playing with one ...

Given we live in the 'everything has been done' world, being first doesn't mean anything. Many of the big names were not first (google, facebook, twitter etc).

So 'doing it right' has a lot of benefit.

But in context probably of most value is just the 'doing'. Getting out there, speaking to potential customers and showing off your MVP.

I don't speak from knowing, but FWIW doing it right + doing first, if possible, may be an advantage.

Do you know any companies that "did it first" and are still in the lead after a number of years? To my surprise, I cannot seem to think of any.

Yes to the extent that we accept as "did it first" the companies that were the first to do it right. Not the first in the field, that would be almost impossible, there's always some kind of prior art. For example there were many search engines before Google, so they were definitely not the first in the field. Then PageRank was "doing it right" I guess and maybe they were the first to deploy that kind of algorithm?

Ford, Kellogg, Seagate, Monsanto, McDonalds and Intel have plenty of notches on this belt.

ebay, PayPal, and Amazon are good examples in the digital world.

do it better, not do it right

"right" is always changing

Or be the first to do it right...

and thus the last

there is no such thing

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