phuu is Tom Ashworth

The Hard Stuff

24 Mar 2012

Why are so many startups focusing on social and sharing? These aren’t hugely difficult problems when you think about it, so who’s taking on the hard stuff?

Maybe this is the issue: Eric Ries’ definition of a startup is “a human institution designed to deliver a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty”, so it follows that with the harder problems the uncertainty is even greater and that this is what puts people off.

There have been a few posts floating around the intertubes on this subject, some even suggesting a few of their own ideas, so here’s a few of mine. In an ideal world, I’d try one. Maybe.

There are probably startups working in these areas, but I haven’t heard of them, so I guess they could be doing a better job!

Publishing (music & literature)

The publishing industry is similary screwed up. I can see some serious potential out there for canny entrepreneurs to do some great stuff in this space. Bloggers like Seth Godin, comedians like Louis CK and the bands letting fans pay what they like have proved that there is room for innovation.

There’s even more space for work in the book industry, and I’m seriously interested in doing it myself. Problem is: I’d have to work with authors. Nightmare.

Education

The current university education model, in the UK at least, has serious issues. I’ll be writing about this more in the future, but for now let the following sufice: the system’s broken, and it ain’t gonna change anytime soon. Not of its occord, and not without a push.

Printers

Home/office printers are (in the main) a load of crap. I have a vision of a gorgeous, monotone, fast, usable, economic and reliable printer with reasonable ink (or other techonology) costs. I would pay good money for that — I don’t need colour and scanning and faxing and tea-making and breakfast-cooking and massaging and psychotherapy.

OK, so maybe I do need the last few (you decide which), but wouldn’t the rest be nice?

Those are just a few of the ideas I’ve been toying with. There are others, like massive data and life optimisation, and I might have some news kinda on that front soon.

If you’re interested in working on any of this with me, then email me here.