Last night while hacking on LayerVault, I had put on Paul Graham’s Office Hours at TC Disrupt. After watching the six or so guys chat with him, I am ashamed to call myself a software developer. The kids on stage did not succeed in doing much, other than convincing me that no one should ever give them money. If your pitch involves the phrase “social layer,” you have already lost 100% of anyone that could ever care.
The companies that chatted up PG made the biggest mistake you possibly can when building a product/project: they were inventing problems that don’t exist. If you think that the problems worth solving can be solved by social layers, you are wrong. Your idea sucks. You shouldn’t build it. You shouldn’t pitch it. You shouldn’t pull down everyone else that is in the same industry. PG is way too nice of man to outright shut someone down, but even he was getting frustrated toward the end.
Over the weekend, I was flying through the San Antonio airport and had the opportunity to eavesdrop on two middle-aged, Texan, Midwestern, former cop and former federal-agented men have a conversation. I’m not sure anyone on stage at TC Disrupt yesterday would even know how to say hello. But guys like these have the biggest problems needing to be solved and have the money to spend on them. If you can fix an annoyance for them, they will give you money. If you can’t (eventually) get those guys, you are probably doomed to failure. Especially if it’s a “social layer.” Don’t build things for your social circle.
The problems that your project solves shouldn’t start with “Wouldn’t it be nice if…” Instead, they should always be phrased, “X sucks because Y and Z.” You may not even have a solution. Technology may not even be the right solution. But please stop adding social layers to social layers and raising 5 million dollarbucks.
Your idea is bad and you should feel bad.