Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Entrepreneur Story #4: Dreams vs. Reality

The Mobile market is HOT. At a conference in the valley (silicon that is), out of every three entrepreneurs I talked to two and half had the next big mobile application. The biggest idea is the next ubiquities operating system. A system that is running all mobile phones, allow transportability of applications, improves the development process of new applications, etc. etc.

I had a conversation with one these operating system companies yesterday – the fifth or sixth company in the same space I have spoken to in the past couple of months. Naturally, each one has few strengths and some weaknesses and each one has some unique angle and approach. Without a doubt the idea is big and if one could become the standard operating system – the next DOS is conceived and the next Microsoft born – a very nice dream.

What I found as common between all of the entrepreneurs I talked to was the underestimation of the power of the big OEM’s (Samsung, Nokia, and Motorola) in controlling their own operating system and the equal power of the carries (AT&T, Verison, Spring) in being the gate keepers of innovation and user adoption.

Building an innovative technology requires hard work and very smart technologist, building a business requires getting to markets and selling and building a ubiquities operating system requires an acknowledgment of the power of the incumbent players. This is not to say that we should not dream big, but that we should address the very obvious barriers before we spend many many hours of hard work, refinance our house and expect VC’s to invest – dealing with disappointments before they occur.

The point here is simple, and some may disagree with it, find a way to get past the gatekeepers and get the OEM’s on board and you don’t need the best technology in the world – fail to deal with the barriers early and the most innovative solutions will not work – realities that kill a dream!

The broader point is whatever business you are building, figure out what the major barriers are and have a solid (real) plan to deal with it. Work on eliminating or embracing the barriers as vigorously as you are working on the building the technology or the product.

And this is one man’s opinion.