when did “re” become an acceptable prefix to imagination?

Posted on July 12, 2012. Filed under: startups, venture capital |

I hear smart venture capitalist repeatedly talk about this holy grail for startups of “replacing one of the native applications” on the iPhone.  They revere instagram for “replacing the camera” and wonder desperately who will replace the address book, or the calendar, or the video application that come installed on your iphone when you take it out of the box.  I think this is a really boring lens through which to look for giant opportunities.  Sure, some of these applications that we are looking to replace are high frequency hi occurrence tools, so surely there is value in taking market share in those behaviors, but do we really think that Apple has conceived of and installed all of the most important/most valuable categories of application?  Just because it’s hard to supplant apps with embedded distribution in these verticals, (and therefore anything that does, will by definition, be an amazing product), doesn’t mean that we need to dream in such a confined box.  Personally, I’d much rather build something that causes Apple to say “oh shit, we should’ve skipped “calculator” and built a [insert your new category of application that owns a fast growing behavior which didn’t saliently exist when they guessed the first 12 things people would want to do with their new smartphones] than chase Ical for the next 5 years.

I hear startups often frame what they are working on as “reimagining” X.  “we are reimaging the calendar in a social world” “we are reimagining payments” and I think to myself…that sounds bold…but isn’t it bolder to imagine than to reimagine?  Sure you have a higher chance of crapping out, without a highly visible behavior that has been proven productizable through software solutions, but you only live once…wouldn’t you rather create the category than chase it?

**btw, this is not a know on Brewster. I am freaking pumped to see what Steve’s been working on and can’t wait to use it

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6 Responses to “when did “re” become an acceptable prefix to imagination?”

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I think some of this is a signaling problem. “Re-imagining X” can be an effective short-hand to express both ambition and relevance (to VC “interest areas”). Most VC panels seem to encourage this. (And most VCs don’t have the balls to make “imagining” investments.)

If you say you’re “re-imagining” to PG, he will laugh at you. But he’ll recommend you pitch that way on demo day. That’s pretty damning of VCs if you ask me.

Seems like FoundersFund has made “imagining” a part of their brand. In these frothy times, I think good VCs will start to do the same. More signaling… until mediocre VCs follow suit and that signal loses value too…

“To be contrarian now is to think for yourself”

i like that quote

it’s institutionalized laziness hidden behind one word: vertical and justified by another: trend. investors & entrepreneurs with vision think multi-dimensionally. the problem is that there aren’t enough of each out there and those that are out there can’t find each other.

Great post

People don’t create anymore, they just remix. It is hard work to imagine something totally new, then go create it. People just don’t want to work that hard anymore. Sadly, most people don’t want to pay for anything creative. It’s just a bad feedback loop really.


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    I’m a NYC based investor and entrepreneur. I think there is one metric that can be used to measure the value of a human life and that’s impact. How did you change things? How many people did you touch? How different is the world because you lived in it and how positive was the change that you affected? (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it) You can email me at Jordan.Cooper@gmail.com

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