In May 2008, I won a TechCrunch Meet-up pitch contest with the idea of the ConcertIn web-based service for concert lovers. Fast forward to September 2010, we were soft-launching a Facebook application that helps people discover live music. So what happened during those 2+ years? Why did it take so long?
Well…I cooperated, on average, with one and a half co-founders, but unfortunately both working relationships died, the latter even before he fully started working on the project. During those years, I tuned the idea of a service, optimizing the service concept according to new trends. The primary goal, however, has always remained intact: to build something that really matters. Simple, easy to use, and useful.
And that is not easy considering the fact that people prefer to use services with no real value. Take a look at Facebook with more than a half-billion active users. The service is based on a philosophy that people need to share more. Personally, I prefer to share less – especially when others are increasing their “sharing” rate over time. Does the sharing make people happier? I strongly doubt it, unless you are a narcissist with no self-confidence. Never mind, Facebook’s valuation tops 30 billion dollars. A lot of money for…?
Take Zynga, a gaming giant that has grown – rather, exploded – inside the Facebook ecosystem in past years. More than 200 million users monthly reap what they sow, play poker, and rule the Caribbean while sitting behind a computer. They also spend money buying – wait for it – virtual goods. The addicts all over the world have explored the look and feel of this app. My message to them is: “Get real. Why don’t you go to Vegas and spend some real money playing real poker, you lazy (—)!”
Okay, cooling down now. Do you know what Facebook and Zynga have in common? Their No. 1 goal is to keep you on-site as long as possible in order to pump up their personal data warehouses. They will do whatever they can to fulfill their mission. Facebook will show you in the “Picture memories” section a picture of your kitten that passed away last week and you, crying, will be politely watching happy ads right below. Zynga will boost your little gambler ego just to sell you a brand-new product that you cannot touch, feel, smell, taste, or kick in the ass. Sad…frustrating…but true as both companies are in the ad industry.
We took a different approach. We chose Facebook as our primary distribution channel. Distribution is what Facebook is really efficient at. We add content (tour dates and concert tickets) and context (showing you concerts of artists and bands you like). We don’t want our users to spend more time with our application than is absolutely necessary. That is why we are now also collecting your email address – so we can email you when your favorite artist or band will be touring in your area. We move forward, step by step gathering your feedback and usage data to help us to build something, perhaps small at the beginning, that really matters.