Ideas Aren’t Worthless
I need to be honest with you. The world as I know has been rearranged over the last week. The world of a software engineer is one where ideas are worthless. “If you would have built Facebook, you would have built Facebook,” echoes in the mind of every person that commits a line of code, and those that have bought the soundtrack to The Social Network and maybe saw it four times in theaters..
But some ideas are inherently worth something. Allan and I discovered last week that LayerVault is definitely one of those things. We put out a video last Monday to much fanfare. We were featured on betali.st and made the front page of Hacker News. Many of the potential users we were planning on emailing, the high profile designers and such, ended up asking us for invites before we were even back on our feet. But we were merely selling the idea—in the form of a screencast—to anyone willing to listen. As far as the outside world was concerned, LayerVault could have been vaporware.
The idea that you start with is important. It’s early with LayerVault, but I’m skeptical that the suddenly chic pivot is really just a realization of a poorly thought out idea. But pivots are in. So is social, local, hypesocial, hyperlocal and hypersociallocal. But LayerVault is not a buzzword product. In fact, it’s kind of boring: simple version control for designers. We had 100 users and 1000 signups in the first 48 hours. A week out (as of this morning), we have 300 active users and thousands more on the waiting list. Just because we had a good idea and expressed it in a screencast.
LayerVault solves a real problem, and designers get excited just thinking about it or hearing the description. I often find myself scratching my head when listening to a stranger’s pitch at a meetup for something so removed from a real problem. I want to punch them in the face and scream, “But what problem are you solving?”
I guess we’re still in shock at the early success of building something that people use. Hearing “I don’t know how I worked without you before” is one of the highest compliments a developer can receive. It’s exciting to work with users that love your project and aren’t just fleetingly checking it out.
And it’s all because we had a good idea.