Translation from Bitter Whiz Kid to English: self-important child gets no traction on his resume so starts a web site that he thinks will obviously make the world stampede to his door and he won't have to get a real job.
Which is great, because even though this idea is nice, it'll fail because:
1. Companies don't want and perhaps even can't legally use unsolicited suggestions. Despite the "innovation happens elsewhere" maxim, no company actually functions that way internally. If you suggest something and they implement it, do they owe you anything? Look at all the flak Apple gets when they "steal" an idea from a third-party app, whether that's actually ever the case or not.
2. The "innovators" that founded the company are just as self-important as you are. It's their company, they know best, their employees know best, who are you? "You're just some kid," they say. Start your own company if you don't want to be the low man on the totem pole, which you did. Atta boy.
3. You're still just some kid. Or, more specifically, despite all your experience compared to your age peers, you're still terribly inexperienced in the ways of the world. Your entire blog post is a rant against the companies you want to attract to your startup. You have no diplomacy. Go read Richard Hamming's "You and Your Research."
I'm sure a lot of people here at HN were/are in the same boat. I would actually complain to friends and family, "Oh, I'm so brilliant, if only someone would just recognize that and pay me money to think neat shit up, I could do that all day." I'm pushing 30 and I'd wager my "experience" from ten years ago was at least as impressive as his is now. You know what? I was a self-important tool. I did the same things: started a business, did well for a few years, tanked it, did some consulting for a years, tanked that, started another business, tanked that.
Then I held two "real" jobs with big multinational hardware and software companies, and I think I've grown more as a human being -- able to relate well interpersonally, able to work the system to get my ideas and projects and wants handled, comprehending the value of networking and somewhat being able to do it -- in this time than I did the entire time I was doing my own thing. I get the system and I think landing my next "real" job will be way easier, as will starting my next own business.
People told me this when I was this kid's age, too, and I didn't listen, and I didn't get it. I just barely get it now.
Good luck, dejan! Try and lay off the bitterness a bit and work on your people skills a bit more. People will always need to see the "proof" of your brilliance in the ways they are accustomed to; it's up to you whether fixing that is more important than the ultimate problem you really want to be working on.
Although I have explicitly expressed to ignore prejudices, you started with one assuming you knew everything about this kid. Moreover, you compare yourself and your biases with me. We're not the same, and especially seems we grew up in different centuries. That makes a difference. The world is not the same, since this moment I write until you read it.
I accept I am a kid. I am, and hopefully will stay forever as passionate and young minded =)
- I am not bitter, especially regarding the job searching thing. It is a personal reflection on the process. A lot of my friends are going through even worse things, yet many of them ended up with jobs they hate. I am having much more luck than it seems in the text.
- The website I've built is far from my first project, and I don't expect a stampede.
- I've had full-time jobs in different countries, as well built a successful non-tech (finances) company. I have great social skills. Want a copy of my CV? :)
There is a big difference between GetSatisfaction, UserVoice and Aleveo. If you find a real engineer's solution and not a complaint or feature request on those, I'll accept. If you show me that they are helping people get jobs, I'll send you a pack of beer wherever you are. If you show me that they are not Marketing/PR but Open Innovation tools... I'll send you a Chianti from here in Italy.
1. I am aware of this. However, your focus is on the wrong thing. I am talking about lead-user innovation and open innovation. The users >want< to contribute, but companies are not listening. Would you say a young kid needs to get a job to have a great idea? If you didn't at the time, that doesn't meant someone else doesn't: Facebook, Microsoft, ViaWeb, Apple, FedEx... The list is long. And of course these kids have to prove people like yourself that they are capable, as all they get is discouragement and "NO" from people.
2. Exactly. You don't seem to see a problem in that, how the company is losing?
3. Rant is a proof of passion and determination I hold. We need more of that in the world. Go read Tom Peters' "Re-Imagine."
My post has not a single line of complaint. I am glad you responded, I wanted to make sure it didn't sound like that so I left the starting disclaimer. Truly, I haven't even read it yet.
The points that are made are that:
- everyone holds knowledge how to improve the world, companies and their offerings
- everyone can be an inventor in the same way he can be a video producer, journalist and musician. The web allows that and the world should adapt to it.
- external ideas are a proof of a need to rethink some stuff.
- there is no clear channel for companies to reach external ideas that people >demand< to give. Websites are built by designers and IT people. There is no business strategy beyond presence and online sales. There is more that can be done through the web. Accept it or be crushed by it.
- the way of recruiting is wrong, as people do not enter companies. Ideas do, so why not take a look at those a little bit for a change, you might find your gold fish, as Apple and Google did. If you don't care about people's ideas, you will lose the people, whether your customers or employees.
- companies should not be "faceless" as you say, and should have same "people" skills you mention in their attitude.
- companies need more "intrapreneurs" / entrepreneurial spirit as a way to establish an innovation culture that embraces agile methods of testing ideas against reality.
I believe that a viable business opportunities can be found in the lines I've written. I have taken one, not out of bitterness, but passion to test against the world.
If I do attack businesses, than every single business book (good one at least) does.
Thank you for your sincere reply, you gave me space for a reflection on my thoughts. Your points are clear and valid, but that is exactly why I want to stand up to them. They shouldn't be. Not today. Not ever again.
I would wager your story is very similar to mine, and to others here. It's why we're here, after all.
Balsamiq uses Get Satisfaction to take in feature requests from users, and they go back and forth with wireframes and mockups right there on the site. That's part of their culture, that's not a function of the site. It sounds like you're trying to fix a sociological problem with technology.
1. If a company is not set up, top to bottom, culture to practice, to take in outside feedback, the effort will fail. The development culture and practice within a company that treats constructive criticism from their users/customers as first-rate along with their internal QA and engineers is completely different from one that doesn't. You see this in any company that releases an SDK, publishes an API or licenses technology. Some will rearchitect entire APIs because they realized they got in wrong once people started trying to use it. Some will pack up their ball and go home.
Having spent years running support and developer relations teams, my cynicism tells me the companies you will attract will be the latter, trying to be the former. The former doesn't need you; they can do it themselves, because they believe in it already. The latter will use you, but will fail internally because they don't really want to listen. You can't change a business model and internal culture with a web site. Now, with management and process consultants...
2. No, I don't care how the company is losing. It's a company. It's not a person whose life I can materially improve by helping it. It's a bureaucracy that exists to extract profit at the expense of its customers and employees. Inventing something that improves a particular coffee maker doesn't help anyone but the shareholders of the coffee maker making company; everyone who bought that particular coffee maker isn't going to get a free replacement. You would better serve the people who have the same problem with the same coffee maker by publishing a fix and offering replacement widgets via mail for some token amount, or by making your own coffee maker that solves all those problems and more.
3. I'm not going to go back and re-read the post to highlight specific complaints, but the entire tone, I find, is one of bitterness. It's not wide-eyed idealism, it's "I'll show you all," which comes across quite differently. This is the lack of diplomacy I mean.
Your "points that are made are that" paragraph here is better, but remember that your beliefs aren't everyone else's.
I believe that most people don't want to be inventors, producers, journalists or musicians. Most people don't "demand" to give ideas. Most people don't think that hard about anything at all, but technology in particular, as the priesthood culture of technology has trained people to believe that if something is wrong with technology, it's really their own fault (I'd quote from DoET, but I can't find my copy). And, of those people that have ideas, most lack the subversiveness to do anything about them.
Despite all of these things, I really hope you find both some success with this and in the future. I hope I'm wrong and you change the world. But, if I'm not, I hope you come to understand why at a level deeper than "no-one got it," because that greater comprehension of the system of the world is what will really help in your next venture.
I agree with you that it is a sociological problem being tackled here. Indeed, if we succeed in this it will be a great social innovation. I am far from seeing it easy and obvious, but a bumpy ride we're all going to learn from. As I see now, we'll either become a full fledged channel for embedding constructive feedback to companies, or a new recruiting place with a different, proactive method.
However, I am not the one inventing this thing up just to prove something to companies. My statements are based on Eric Von Hippel's work from the 80s: "The Sources of Innovation" and "Democratizing Innovation" - The Lead User Theory. And you need to see that this is not something new, as many are already doing it. The only thing is - they have to ask for it - explicitly like Dell and Starbucks, implicitly like Lego and Harley Davidson. What we suggest is something to enrich it a bit more - self initiated input, whether it is a current user or not. Moreover, we are giving back for the input, they aren't, while they still get the input? People want to contribute, Open Source, wikis, this discussion we are having here (thank you).
You are right that most people do not want to participate and as you say out of those that have ideas most lack the willingness to act. We are trying to make them share, and maybe when others see they'll change their mind? I don't know, that is truly brave thing to ask, so lets see where it goes?
The target audience are young people and students, who are given incentives and awards for it. I guess for money and recommendations as well visibilities, students "want to be inventors, journalists and musicians." If it helps them get closer to companies, why not? I truly believe that student ideas should be seen by companies, and others.
Also, we are not founded as a company yet, and maybe we'll take the route of a non-profit. Call this a big experiment, we'll all learn something from it.
I do not expect anyone to agree with me on the blog post, those are truly personal beliefs. I didn't attack anyone in particular but processes, so I don't see a reason for any revolt from anyone.
Thank you for these insights, and regarding #3 I will rewrite the tone later so I don't get my head chopped off, served something else rather than coffee in a bar, or hit by a bus :))
I picked up Tom Peters' book, Re-Imagine. I'll check out the 80s works you cited, too.
I assume you've read The Cluetrain Manifesto?