Last week I attended E1O1, a round table forum of young, talented, entrepreneurs, sharing their thoughts and ideas.  I cannot tell you how valuable this kind of forum was for learning, networking, and generating ideas.  But I won’t get into that myself.  Instead I will refer you to Francesco’s excellent blog entry:  Meaningful Networking (06 March 2009) that mirrors my thoughts and feelings exactly on the matter.

Instead, I will talk a little of one of the issues we discussed at E101, namely life cycles of web businesses.  I’ll be the first to admit that I am NOT tech savvy, not by a long shot.  I didn’t know what Web 2.0 meant exactly, vague notions, but no clear understanding, before E101 met (I made sure to know before I went).   So please excuse any ignorance on my part.

As a non-tech person, I found the thought of developing a web business exhausting.   The life-cycle of a web business is short, the competition so large and quick, it’s hard to compete.  To compete you need to continuously innovate.  That’s true for any business, but if I think about the rate of necessary competitive innovation between web businesses and, let’s call them traditional businesses, I feel pessimistic just thinking about it.  I mean, that speed is fine for now.  But in 5 years time, I do not want to be working day in and day out solely to innovate in order to stay ahead of the competition.  Because there is still the whole other side of the business to run.  And we all want a life as well.  So it seems to me that it would be “easier” to maintain a “traditional” start-up that leverages these web tools, than run a successful web business start-up. 

But let’s assume I do get into a web business start-up (the fast growth potential and low overhead cost does make it appealing).  The buzz words for success at the meeting were value, niche market and first to market.  Value I understand.  Niche I understand.  But how scan you be the first to market in today’s competitive, creative, world market.  Check out http://www.killerstartups.com/.  This site reviews more than 15 startups a day.  A day!!!!  And who even knows if these new start-ups were first to market.

I scanned one day’s worth of reviews and already saw two of my friend’s ideas that I had privy to listed on the site.   When you’re competing with the rest of the world, with such an even playing field as the web is, how on earth can you be first to do anything?  I think the odds are slightly better then winning the lottery. 

So my guess is value trumps first to market.  If you can offer something better than what already exists, then that’s maybe worth more than just getting out there first.


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