Joel, sometimes @jayroh

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Contemplating the Journey From “Big Idea” to Success.

07 Feb 2008

Last weekend Sara and I were in New York City, mostly for some events she wanted to attend that were sponsored by a blog network she’s part of. One of the things we were both looking forward to was a brunch on Sunday morning with some of the people that work for the network (Partially because I was allowed to go with her to this one! Ok, maybe only a little bit). Regardless, we had a really good time and talked about a lot of different topics – one of which was a non-existent product that I’ve been pondering for months now. A GPS-enabled card of some sort that could be used to track down a lost wallet, bag, purse, etc. It’s a no-brainer right? One of those “I would buy that in a second if they actually existed”, even though it doesn’t. The reason why is probably because of technological constraints – cost of parts that are that small that could transmit instead of just receive. But, once those parts are available – someone will prototype this up and will make a fortune. Unfortunately that someone won’t be me. I’ll wait around with my credit card in hand, waiting for a chance to purchase it (for my Mother and for Sara).

The conversation popped into my head today because of a post over at Mike Davidson’s blog about some of the big ideas that powered what he calls a “Slam-Dunk Startup” – Youtube, Hot-or-Not, Google and Amazon. One point he brings up is similar to the thought I had above, that it’s not just the idea but the ability to execute with the overwhelmingly difficult details of providing enough bandwidth, computing power and engineering know-how to hit it out of the park.

I often hear people say things like “if only I thought of YouTube a year before YouTube did, I’d be rich”, implying that given first-mover advantage, that person could create a company as great as YouTube. A statement like this completely disregards just how difficult YouTube was to build, from having the balls to allow brazen copyright violation, to building a great user experience, to scaling out the ability to serve millions of video streams a day. In other words, 99 out of 100 people who may have had the same idea at the same time would have failed to create anything remotely as successful as YouTube.

I couldn’t agree more. Having the chutzpah to take that idea, to make something of it, and then break through the barrier of monetary success and cultural ubiquity? That’s a huge mountain to climb. The amount to which I can relate to this is by no means applicable – but being a solo entrepreneur trying to build something (which is, by no means, that original) on his own is extremely difficult. This is the reason why I have so much respect for the people that have done it. The Alex Tews, Joshua Schacters and Gabe Riveras of the world have nothing but the most tremendous respect from me. Odds are that I’ll never reach those heights, but the journey so far has been the fun part. We’ll wait and see.

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Joel Oliveira

Hi, I'm Joel.

I'm a software engineer in Boston. You can follow me on twitter at @jayroh. I usually tweet about beer, bulldogs, writing code, and sometimes building shubox and thredded.

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