In the startup community, it appears to me that the metric of success is primarily focused on making money. This is not surprising as for most every businesses, this is the only value that matters. And you can break down the process into two conclusions.
a) Startup makes money = Success
b) Startup doesn’t make money = Failure
But I’ve come to focus a lot on a third option, a value that most people don’t think about, which is what I would call “Prestige”, and the concept is rather simple.
Create something with the goal of increasing your visibility in a particular group or scene. With hopes that by increasing your personal brand recognition, your prestige, you will have better opportunities in the future. This is where I feel I am lacking right now, in my community, or as Seth Godin would say my “Tribe”.
I need to increase my own personal visibility to generate the one thing that I desire right now more than anything else, opportunity. If I were more connected, with people that want to get stuff done, I could indeed make powerful things happen. But so far, Bend Oregon is not the bustling hub of entrepreneurial activity that one would hope, and is in fact far from it.
So lets put this into a real world scenario.
I’ve built a mobile app and I have to set the goal. Do I want to focus on Prestige or Profit? Well with profit I could specify a target sale amount of my app, say $.99 cents. And then just get an idea of the volume it would sell over the course of the next two-three years and grind away trying to create the value to sell the specified volume.
After the research I’ve done on the number of units one could potentially sell, it seems that it is a shot in the dark. But I think I could probably move about 250k thousand units based on current trends, then again I could just as easily move only 10k units.
My other option in trying to build out my community. Give the app away for free, and promote myself by saying something like
“Hey, connect with me on linkedin,twitter, or facebook. I’m looking to meet people who want to make amazing things happen!”
How many units could I move then? Well again, from some of the research I’ve done it looks like there is the potential for a 1000:1 ratio of free vs sold applications. That is, for every one app you sell, you could have given away 1000 applications for free.
What gave me this idea? It was when I was researching in-application advertising. I could give away my app away for free, but implement ads, hoping that enough traffic would be generated as to monetize the traffic from my app. But then I thought;
“Why couldn’t I buy out ads, to build out my community, in my own application?”
This goal totally seemS resonable, because I’ve been studying some of my rich friends. And even though they have a ton of cash, they never cash out, they still continue to work. You can even see this with people like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and many others. So knowing that I still have about 35 years worth of work left to accomplish, I would rather be working with people and on projects that actually change things. That make both an impact but also a profit.
And currently, that is what my brain is chewing on.
Prestige or Profit? Prestige or Profit indeed…