Mar 092005

Counter Cliche: As Simple As the Wheel

Counter Cliche:  As Simple As the Wheel

Fred’s VC cliche of the week this week is about the analog analog.  It builds on one of Brad’s great concepts which he blogged about here.  The concept is that figuring out how a digital idea mirrors an offline idea is a better way of handicapping future success of a venture than understanding pure technology analogs. 

I tend to agree with Fred, that it’s one useful lens with which to evaluate a new idea, but not the only one.  So my counter cliche for the week is to look for something As Simple As the Wheel. 

At Return Path, by the way, nearly every business we’re in has a clear analog analog (Email Change of Address = Postal Change of Address, Email List Rental = Postal List Rental, Email Market Rearch = Telephone Market Research, and on and on) and has been the result of real brainstorming processes and complex, nuanced thinking.

But innovation doesn’t have to be all that complex.  One of my favorite examples of this is luggage.  Somehow, for decades, we all travelled with suitcases or garment bags or duffel bags creating pinched nerves as they hung from our shoulders or bad backs as we gripped them and sprinted through airports.

Then someone decided to put litle wheels on luggage and change the luggage industry and the way we travel for the better.  WHEELS, for goodness sake.  Not ASP, not B2B, not CRM, not ERP, not the human genome project, not cold fusion.

What’s the wheel that your industry or product needs?  Don’t search for the analog analog if there’s something more simple staring you in the face that can explode your market.