Don’t Read Tech Blogs: 10 Ideas from Backupify’s Rob May
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curves have sped up, established companies have to work to disrupt their own products and thinking, May says. Easier said than done (especially for big companies), but “it’s better than being eaten by a startup,” he says.
6. Who will disrupt Facebook? Probably some form of mobile social network, May says. Some technology where, for example, you can leave a message for someone who visits the same bar you’re sitting in. (Maybe something like Pinwheel, Caterina Fake’s latest startup?) In any case, it will happen. Facebook is totally mainstream, and the technorati have moved on to other things, he says.
7. Build a product first, then a platform. May has some nuts-and-bolts advice for tech entrepreneurs. Although it seems everyone is trying to release new software platforms—for mobile apps, advertising, cloud-data management—you “can’t build a platform from day one,” he says. I took this to mean there’s a learning curve for refining a specific product that you can’t skip on your way to building something bigger.
8. Tools make more money than apps. In the mobile world, May sees problems for most companies trying to sell apps. There’s too much noise, and despite new advertising and other revenue models, it’s tough to get traction. He predicts the companies making tools to help developers and businesses are more likely to succeed. (See mobile startup Kinvey, which provides a cloud-based backend service for app developers, for example).
9. Seed funding is still tough to get for many companies. Although it seems like everyone is raising a seed round or seed fund, it’s actually hard to get early funding if you’re trying to build a business-software startup, May says. That’s because “it’s hard to acquire customers when they don’t know if [your service] will be around” in a few years, he says. So, despite talk of a seed-stage bubble, lots of early startups (and especially B2B ideas) are floundering.
10. Keep an eye on Amazon. May is certainly not alone in watching the e-commerce and cloud giant’s offerings in data management and databases, such as SimpleDB. (I’ve heard some back-of-the-envelope calculations that suggest Amazon.com could have more servers than IBM or Hewlett-Packard in three to five years, maybe sooner.) Given Amazon’s massive IT infrastructure and propensity for reinventing its business in areas like publishing, mobile content, cloud storage, and retail—combined with its consumer reach—the company will have to be reckoned with no matter what field of technology you’re in.