Normative thinking around entrepreneurship is around solving a “problem” that people have. Many great online experiences aren’t borne from a solution to a problem. What “problem” did facebook solve?
Here’s a useful startup lesson I learned about ideation:
A little while back, I drove down to Portland with Vinita and my buddy Rich and to check out the food cart scene there. On the way there, Rich played his music. Rich has great taste in music, but sometimes it gets a little monotonous listening to one person’s music the entire time. On the way back, we used my grooveshark mobile app (Yes, I got lucky and downloaded it before it ever got pulled) to listen to music. The way it worked, I got to pick a song, then Rich got to pick one, and we alternated back and forth. It eventually became a little game — Who could play once-popular but now uncommon and engaging music on a consistent basis? There was certainly peer validation in the little exercise. Someone would play a song and the other person would do the equivalent of “Liking” the song or some sort of unspoken/unseen “fist bump”.
Fast forward a few weeks later and both Rich, I, and several other friends I know are head-over-heels in love with Turntable.FM, which provides a very similar experience in a number of ways.
How does an entrepreneur learn from this? Well, by now you’re already hopefully living and breathing the PG/YC religion of *making stuff that people want*. A crucial characteristic of making stuff that people want is understanding real world behaviors that are fun and interesting (often social) and using them as inspirational fodder for the creation process.
It seems like many of the great consumer internet startups take a certain real world behavior that people do and extrude them into the real world. Turntable.FM did this beautifully.
If you liked this post, follow @ashbhoopathy and I’ll hit you up with another UX roundup to learn how to make sticky experiences like TTFM.