How could that be, given the night before at dinner I went on a rant about the fact that no food photo app – not Foodspotting, not Forkly, not any of them – would ever enter the mainstream enough to be interesting.
“It just doesnt integrate into my daily work flow. Its an occasional use app, which means I have to remember to use it. I dont *want* to use it. It doesnt beg me to use it.”
Yet, The Eatery proved me wrong for two reasons. One, it makes me *want* to use it because I want to see if I am eating as healthy as I think I am, and I trust my friends to score my food appropriately.
Two, its perfect enough.
In the world of low-cost startups, where the ability to launch apps makes startups a dime a dozen (and dozen and dozen and dozen), and methodologies like Lean Startup reign, we have developed into a “just launch” culture.
After all, it’s a Minimum Viable Product, right?
In believing that a cycle of launching –> customer development –> iterating –> launching is the way to get to success, we forget that the important part of that cycle is not the launching, but putting ourselves in the place of the customer and solving their problem.
Its that fundamental aspect of building a big special company that we have forgotten somewhere along the line. We are enthralled about the latest Techcrunch article about our coolest feature that just launched or that some app now has 12 million users. We compete on having the greenest grass, and stopped competing on having the strongest solution.
For most people, taking pictures of their food is just not a problem, but understanding the value of what they are eating is a real, huge, defined problem. And by Massive Health focus on the type of information provided in the feedback loop they will have a hit on their hands. (Instead of getting “wow that looks great!” which validates your status as a “foodie” — and is an ego boost among your friends; Massive Health is getting “wow you made a good decision” which validates your decision to do something good for you — and makes your friends feel good for helping out.)
Is The Eatery the perfect app? No, the onboard is a bit much, and the friend management blows. The analytics are a good start, but leave much to be desired. Rating takes a few clicks too many, and some functions carry no descriptions. Yet, by keeping in mind the problem they are solving, the actions they wanted users to take, they have built an app that is just perfect enough.
I implore all founders to stop what they are doing for the next 60 minutes and ask “what problem are we solving?” and more importantly, “does that problem really matter?”
Big businesses are built on the ability to 1) make people feel good about themselves; 2) magically. Not if you have the largest, greenest lawn on the block.
Nice work Massive Health, you have inspired me to re-focus on whats important. Our users.
- The Eatery, App Shares Your Photos of Meals to Improve Your Health (laughingsquid.com)
- Why we need to reinvent healthcare with technology (wired.co.uk)
- Forkly Enters The Soon-To-Be-Stuffed Mobile App Taste Space (techcrunch.com)
- Foodspotting Hits A Million Downloads, Celebrates By Upping The Gluttony (techcrunch.com)
Subscribe to this blog's RSS feed
I grew up here. Went to school at Monta Loma Elementary in Mountain View while living at 532 Thompson Avenue.
A friend of mine, Chris’ dad was amazing. He raced motorcycles. He introduced us to Thomas Dolby. And he loved Apple.
When I was in the fifth grade, I opted out of normal school and went to a magnet school (which before charter schools were all the rage), and while there tested highly in my potential as a business leader, and was given access to a new computer lab full of Apple IIe’s. I played lots of Oregon Trail and was dominate at Lemonade Stand. I loved those Apples.
In the seventh grade, I played on a AYSO soccer team called the Mean Green Machine that my dad and Chris’s dad coached. We shared the field with the Pumas (but we pronounced them the Peeee-uuuuu-mas) and I played with my friend Tommy, who years later, because of Facebook reconnected with me. I still remember the day that it looked like Apple was going to go out of business because Chris’ dad was so sad.
Steve Jobs wasnt an icon. Steve Jobs wasnt a god.
Steve Jobs was Silicon Valley.
People can extol his undeniable focus, and his unique ability to embrace technological beauty, but for me, those were just things that Steve Jobs did. It wasnt what he was. He was me. He embodied everything that everybody tries to describe Silicon Valley as.
When I was in high school, I was invited to this three day conference that was for students that were considered to be the most likely to become business leaders (seriously, you think I would have gotten the hint). The conference took place in Monterrey, and we had a small team that developed a product, the marketing strategy, the pitch, the whole shebang. We created the Peanut Gallery, which was a set of peanut butter and jelly mixes that were in character shaped bottled. We had a jingle. We even had one more thing.
Steve Jobs wasnt an inspiration. Steve Jobs wasnt the second coming.
Steve Jobs was Silicon Valley.
My mom worked at startups for years. In a constant state of getting hired and then getting laid off, failure was something that we understand was part of the fabric of the community in which we lived. In fact, most people who grew up here have faced and survived failure. It is what we do.
Steve Jobs was Silicon Valley.
Bill Gates was always an outsider here. He was the enemy. A symbol of The Man. He did things that we of the Valley would never do. Or, at least, would never admit to doing.
In places like PARC, we sat on bean bags and invented new ways to interact with technology.
We look at straight lines and envision curves. We believe that the only impossible thing is impossibility.
That was Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs is Silicon Valley and Silicon Valley can never die.
Today is my birthday. Strangely enough, it happens about once a year. Never been big into personal milestones or dates. I forget everyone else’s birthday (thanks Facebook for helping me there!) and cant remember the last time I had a party on my birthday (I think I was like 14.). It’s just not important to me.
Yesterday, my dad called and asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I said I wanted to replace a faucet, two screen doors and put a solid screen door (which I learned is called a security door) on my front door.
After several hours of Home Depot runs and screen replacements, my dad and I sat in the backyard.
“This year is a weird one, dad”
“I think for the first time, I can see how fast I run my life. I have always gone at 100 mph, and if people cant keep up, then I left them behind.”
My father nodded. “You have always been impatient.”
Its true. I never cared much for the process. When starting something, I am always waiting for the end. I eat quickly, consume mass amounts of data, and never sit still. (Im not ADHD. I just run at a different speed.)
This year is an interesting one. In all my impatience, the other day, I stopped and took an accounting of all the people I know. Of all the people who have made a positive impact in my life. That list is long. I asked myself, am I willing to slow down in my life to spend more time with the awesome people I am connected to, or will I continue to run hard until I cant run anymore?
The answer was a resounding yes. I plan to spend the next year listening more than talking; helping more than taking. I plan to smell some roses, and enjoy the process just a bit more.
We are the sum of our connections.
Today, rather than celebrating that I am a year older, I am celebrating my friends. Each and every one of them. I am celebrating that the great part of “being connected” is the connections themselves.
So, thank you for all the birthday wishes, but more importantly, thank you for helping me realize that life experienced at 100mph is no experience at all.