December 17, 2010
A friend of mine is brainstorming a business in the dating space. It’s an interesting idea—a spin on the traditional dating service in potentially lucrative niche. My friend asked me about technology—which technology, who to partner with, etc.
My advice for the dating idea was this: forget the technology. Just do the business.
The core idea can be tested on a small scale. You don’t need to build “web-scale” infrastructure to get started. Instead, do as much as you possibly can manually: tap into your network, be the matchmaker yourself. You really only need email and a spreadsheet. Instead of having an applicant filling a web form to get into the dating service, have them call you.
Technology has three downsides for business efforts like these. First, it’s expensive at a time when you don’t have money yet. Second, it’s time-consuming at a point when you’re eager to get started. Third, technology is the embodiment of a whole set of assumptions, ideas, and processes which you don’t even know will work yet. Building the technology first is a burden.
Instead of taking on all that technology burden, just do the business.
There is a final downside to leading with technology: it insulates you. In the case of my friend’s dating site (and validating the particular niche she’s brainstorming), she’ll get much better feedback by being directly involved. Have your finger on the pulse by talking to prospective customers, hearing the sound of their voice, hearing their concerns directly.
What business are you thinking of? Can you forget the technology, and just do the business?