10x improvement

Posted on October 10, 2013. Filed under: startups, venture capital, wildcard |

I spent time this morning with Brian Pokorny.  I always like coming out to the west coast because people here have different language, different frameworks, and different models for how they think about problems and opportunities.  It’s not surprising…while the internet is a global phenomenon, there is a local bias in the data we consume, simply as a function of who we talk to everyday and what they are building and thinking about.  I am intimately familiar with the lessons of the last 500 companies to succeed and fail in New York City, and familiar, but less so, with the stories behind their west coast counterparts.  Today Brian planted a thought in my head, that has stuck.  In discussing our plans for Wildcard, and what an experience might look like that achieved broad adoption, the notion of a “10x improvement” was surfaced.  Brian’s suggestion, which I think I agree with, is that in order for a non-social application (or a “utility”) to penetrate a large amount of consumers, it needs to represent a 10x improvement over existing and entrenched alternatives.  Now I don’t know if it’s 10x, or 9x, or 5x, but the spirit behind it is right.  For people to recognize Wildcards as a better alternative to mobile web pages, the experience needs to be a slap you in the face improvement over similar solutions found in Safari, Chrome, and the distributed forms of those experiences.  That’s a high fucking bar…but I think it’s the right one to try to clear…so what does a 10x improvement mean in the context of Wildcard…I thought about this for a while, and I came to the conclusion that speed is everything.  For Wildcard to win, we need to be able to take actions that require 60 seconds of a user’s time in Safari, and achieve them in 6 through Wildcard.  As crazy as that sounds…I think that is the opportunity we’re chasing…and while a big swing for sure…I think it’s one we can achieve.  There are a lot of different ways to shave 54 seconds off a minute, and we are pushing on all of them…In the course of the conversation, we shared examples of others who pushed on utility innovation, and no doubt the road is littered with $20-70M outcomes that had to fall into a larger distribution platform in order for their innovation to reach many…we referenced those outcomes as “misses,” and thought of ways to avoid such an outcome…there were distribution hacks, indirect product designs that were A to B to C type strategies…but at the end of the day, after thinking through all, I actually believed our best chance at breaking into the Evernote/Dropbox/Google sphere, was to continue to pursue the 10x form of our product…It’s not a new concept that I didn’t understand before…obviously our experience has to crush the shitty mobile web experience currently enjoyed by hundreds of millions today, but thinking through a lens of 10x improvement really isolates the one key thing that will warrant a population’s change in daily behavior…in the case of Wildcard, in a world with load times, and errant clicks, and inefficient attempts at known desktop behaviors…we will strive to make your interaction with the information and actions of the internet 10x faster than this clumsy bullshit you are using today.

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4 Responses to “10x improvement”

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Wow, really excited to see how Wildcard will feel like when it’s out there. If you ever need beta users, I’d love to participate, Jordan.

the challenge is that the shitty experience is also getting better. so 10x today is not 10x tomorrow

Looks like a shark in space 😀

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    I’m a NYC based investor and entrepreneur. I've started a few companies and a venture capital firm. You can email me at Jordan.Cooper@gmail.com (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it)


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