A lot of you or people you know or follow just returned from CES in Las Vegas. I think of CES as the old World’s Fair’s of the 1950’s and 60’s where futuristic ideas were put on display – visions of where things MIGHT head. Fun. Cool. Inspirational.
The hangover happens when you realize 99.9999% of us still drive our own cars, flip a switch to turn on our lights and use a key to get into our houses. How could that be when 99.99999% of you reading this email carry a smartphone? It comes down to one word:
The products we are reading about today may be excellent – like the self-adjusting belt – but their intent is unclear and their market seems to be the media, not a customer. Now, instead of creating a belt that loosens, why not do the opposite. If you are trying to lose weight or control your calories, why not partner with an app like MyFitnessPal and, as you input your daily meals into your smartphone (already a habit), it pushes a signal to your belt and it tightens based on where you are versus the goals you’ve set up.
One of the more inspirational episodes I did was with Zach Supalla, founder of Spark.io. His company is building an open source Internet of Things operating system but the idea for the business came to him when he was trying to solve a specific problem: How to notify his deaf father that his mother sent him a text when he wasn’t near his phone.
He solved it by using a lamp. When a text arrived, the lamp would either flash or, later on when the Hue arrived, change colour. Simple. Effective. It also made me change my mind on why anyone would ever have internet-connected lightbulbs. My brother is deaf and I could see this being very useful for him. This made incredible sense and launched a company from intent.
These moments of clarity – of intent – are rare and may never lead anywhere. However, to create a successful product or company and not understand the “why” of what you are doing is even more rare.