Clever vs Big ideas

Some ideas are clever and awesome and right without being big.


To be big the startup needs a way to travel the “idea maze” (an idea I heard about from


This point was driven home in a big way recently on fitness. Tons of cool new gadgets — Fitbit and Withings and Jawbone Up. They do amazing things. Clever. Huge businesses? Not really huge like HUGE (Twitter or Tesla size). Not yet.


Meanwhile a couple of fitness apps are frigging massive. Myfitnesspal is a pure app that does the best you can without hardware add ons. I saw it valued last week as one of the ten most valuable apps in the world – over $1bn.


Big, I think, means a product that is

– easy to build not rocket science

– easy to launch not gated by key partners

– easy for customers to buy/use not a lock-in

– easy for customers to spread not driven by breakthrough marketing


The left hand stuff for fitness is

– just an app!

– submit to appstore!

– get from appstore!

– social features


The right hand side for fitness is

– a year of engineering plus

– retailers or insurers need to get on board

– customer needs to pay >$1 to buy a gadget which happens 10ish x per year

– gadgets are mostly single player


These things may create long term value per user, but prevent you from getting big.