Build Products, Not Companies.

We are selfish creatures. Naturally, we are preprogrammed as living beings to put ourselves before all else, mainly as a survival method. Nowhere else is this statement more true than in the golden land of opportunity itself: Silicon Valley. And it’s this selfishness, this self obsession that is so intertwined with the very idea of the 21st century tech industry that has been holding back for the past 20 years. The startup as an idea is the direct result of the successes that were Microsoft, Apple, and to some extent, Amazon and Google. These firms laid the foundation for the current Silicon Valley landscape, but modern firms have built upon them in a completely incorrect way. Instead of trying to build upon these previous successes, Silicon Valley has decided to attempt to replicate them, a decision that has in effect set us back about ten years in terms of technological growth and adoption, all because of one idea: the startup. I mean, you really can’t blame people. No one wants to be the Scott Forstall or Andy Rubin, everyone wants to be the Steve Jobs or the Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos. No one wants to just build a product, everyone wants to build a company around their product. And it’s this sad truth that is holding back Silicon Valley, as most of the time, the fundamental ideas behind a startup’s product are great ones, but startups, despite hundreds of millions to billions in VC funding, fail on the execution of these ideas. either due to lack of capital, or more likely, lack of experience. For a place that demands an understanding of the fundamental fragility of an idea, it sure seems like companies fail on the execution of an idea a whole lot. So if you’re thinking of starting a company, whether it be a small business or startup, just consider this: pitch your idea as a product to a major company before you pitch it to VCs. While it may seem contradictory at first, these companies will understand the fragility of an idea more than any Unicorn seeking VC will, they will give you tenfold the resources any budget conscious VC will, and most importantly, they will give you the time you need to realize your idea’s full potential, because, in most cases at least, they can subsidize the costs of your idea with the product lines they’re already finding success in, where a VC in the same position will do everything in his or her power to find an exit strategy to make his or her money back. If all you can come up with is a go to market strategy and a sound product-market fit, well, that’s great, but if you don’t have any long term growth strategy, then I would strongly consider pitching your idea as the foundation for a product to a company rather than a startup to VCs. And if the former strategy fails, and no company will invest the required resources into your vision, well then go to VCs, the chances of the company taking your idea is pretty slim, as, as I said before, any company with the ability and insight to see the value in your idea will also understand its fragility, and thus the need for you to be on board. It really can’t hurt to pitch your idea to a company first, even if they don’t pick you up, they’ll likely provide you with valuable outside insight and market information that you would be hard-pressed to acquire before. Always remember: Before Steve Wozniak started Apple to build the Apple 1, he pitched the idea to HP, and even today they’re lightyears behind the folks over at 1 Infinite Loop. So, to sum it all up, Silicon Valley needs to stop taking notoriety over capability and even though you think you’re a Steve Jobs, you’re probably a Scott Forstall, so start acting like it, start owning it. Stop building shitty companies, start building great products.

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