I’m not really engrossed in the world of startups. Granted, I know a lot of friends at startups, and have been introduced to people that have had great success (and great failures) at startups. One thing that always sticks out at me—aside from the penchant these things have to be well stocked with wealthy bros—is how poor a job most startups do defining who they are/what the fuck their product is.
Today, I found my way to this gem from Lift, apparently an iPhone app that “…is working to push the boundaries of human potential.”
We’re all driven by the idea that we can make a giant impact on human potential by supporting the pursuit of excellence. I’m going to go bold for a bit before coming back to the pragmatic.
We want to eliminate willpower as a factor in achieving goals. Imagine smooth, optimized, self-reinforcing paths for every aspiration. That would qualify as a giant impact on human potential.
We’ll get there. Eventually. Step one is to make feedback loops generally available. We’ve already seen in our beta testing that this alone is wildly effective. We’ll spend the rest of our lives polishing those loops so that they are ubiquitous, optimized, and fully integrated.
Okay, what is this? Not just the product, but these specific words to make a STATEMENT. It sounds interesting, the way a car horn melody can fall into some semblance of a song if left to play long enough, but what does any of that mean for an audience?
First, you can be bold while being pragmatic. It’s also weird the statement switches from the collective We to the more ego-centered I, but that’s cool. I’m not a writer, I get it. But it’s still the notion that somehow being bold and being pragmatic are somehow misaligned or mutually exclusive from one another. Sometimes the bold move is the pragmatic move, often an overlooked sentiment in most startups. Be bold! Fail big! Succeed with experimentation!
Yeah, but to that I say, rely on evidence! Research the other products you are in competition/collaboration with! Be bold with your due diligence and metered with what you expect an audience to want! !t’s bold pragmatism!
The second paragraph gets us closer to cracking this nut, but even then, it sounds strange and maybe even kind of scary. “We want to eliminate willpower as a factor in achieving goals. Imagine smooth, optimized, self-reinforcing paths for every aspiration. That would qualify as a giant impact on human potential.”
You want to ELIMINATE WILLPOWER? What a choice of words! Then we get optimized, self-reinforcing paths, though our willpower has been eliminated, so not sure what self they are reinforcing. Just how shitty will my life be with this new app? Still don’t know what it is yet, and it feels great!
The rest of the blog post goes to great depths of showing How they’ve been building this, but the Why is pretty absent other than loosely strung together words. Once you hit the bottom of the page is when you find out this is just a behavioral tracker, one that probably tells you exactly what to do based on the stuff you’ve tracked. I have to assume that’s what it is, since I’m still not fully sure.
This isn’t meant to be a rag sesh on this one startup—to a larger degree, I always want to see these succeed and, hopefully, better lives. That said, give me, the audience that will always be tracking these developments SOMETHING to go off of.
We’re (lumping like minded folks in with me, which is 2easy I know) the advocates for your growth. Define a product, smartly execute what it is you intend to do with it, and stick to that path long enough to get informed data.
Lots of what they wrote in this post leads me to believe they’ve been tracking a good amount of data and research. Now just tell me what this does, not that it will eliminate my willpower while also reinforcing my very being. Be real though, most apps take pictures, for gravy’s sake, and that’s a simple process to understand. Boil a product down to something that simple, and of course it’s going to resonate.
Show, don’t tell. Less, not more. Smart, not hard.
Great, now I’m writing.