The Idea That Beats Facebook Is Out There—but Where?

More

It cannot be that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pandora, Zynga, LinkedIn are the pinnacle of social software

615_Facebook_Instagram.jpgReuters

The quickest way to create a billion dollar company is to take basic human social needs and figure out how to mediate them on-line. Look at the first wave of the web/mobile/cloud startups that have done just that:  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Match.com, Pandora, Zynga, WordPress, LinkedIn.

It's your turn.

This week I'm in New York teaching a 5-day version of my Lean LaunchPad class at Columbia University.  While the class teaches a process to search and validate a business model, it does not offer any hints on how to create a killer startup idea.  So after teaching several hundred teams in the last few years, one of my students finally asked this question - "So how do we come up with an idea for the next billion dollar company?"

IS IT A PROBLEM OR A NEED? I've now come to believe that the value proposition in a business model (value proposition is the fancy name for your product or service) fits into either one of two categories:

  • It solves a problem and gets a job done for a consumer or a company (accounting software, elevators, air-conditioning, electricity, tablet computers, electric toothbrushes, airplanes, email software, etc. )
  • Or it fulfills a fundamental human social need (friendship, dating, sex, entertainment, art, communication, blogs, confession, networking, gambling, religion, etc.)

MOVING NEEDS TO BITS = $1 BILLION: Friendship, dating, sex, art, entertainment, communication, confession, networking, gambling, religion - would our hearts still beat and would our lungs still breathe without them?  Of course.  But these are things that make us human. They are hard-wired into our psyche. We've been doing them for ten's of thousands of years.

Ironically, the emergence of the digital world  has made us more efficient yet has left us with less time for face-to-face interaction. Yet it's these interactions that define our humanity.

-- Facebook takes our need for friendship and attempts to recreate that connection on-line.

-- Twitter allows us to share and communicate in real time.

-- Zynga allows us to mindlessly entertain ourselves on-line.

-- Match.com allows us to find a spouse.

At the same time these social applications are moving on-line, digital platforms (tablets and smartphones) are becoming available to hundreds of millions. It's not hard to imagine that in a decade, the majority of people on our planet will have 24/7 access to these applications. For better or worse social applications are the ones that will reach billions of users.

Yet they are all only less than 5-years old.

It cannot be that today we have optimally recreated and moved our all social interactions on-line.

It cannot be that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pandora, Zynga, LinkedIn are the pinnacle of social software.Others will do better. Others will discover the other unmet and unfilled social needs that can move on-line. It could be you.

This article was originally published on Steve Blank's blog.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Steve Blank is a retired Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur-turned-educator and the author of The Four Steps to the Epiphany. He writes regularly at www.steveblank.com. More

Steve Blank is a retired serial entrepreneur-turned-educator who is changing how startups are built and how entrepreneurship is being taught. He created the Customer Development methodology that launched the lean startup movement, and wrote about the process in his first book, The Four Steps to the Epiphany. His second book, The Startup Owner's Manual, is a step-by-step guide to building a successful company. Blank teaches the Customer Development methodology in his Lean LaunchPad classes at Stanford University, U.C. Berkeley, Columbia University and the National Science Foundation. He writes regularly about entrepreneurship at www.steveblank.com.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In