Your Idea is “Dead Simple”, Really?

Your Idea is “Dead Simple”, Really?

Some people seem to think that if they just call their idea “Dead Simple” that it actually makes their idea or product Dead Simple. They’re wrong.

Every semester at the Founder Institute starts with a four-week sprint to the Mentor Idea Review. Where each of the Founders get to pitch their idea to a group of mentors. If they score well, the founder gets to continue in the program. Score poorly, the founder will get invited back to the next semester for free.

Founders come into the program in three stages at the start of the program:

  1. Idea Stage – maybe one or up to three ideas
  2. Pre-Product Stage – they are generally committed to an idea or a market
  3. Pre-Revenue Stage – the product is ready, but the company is pre-revenue and needs to work on their go to market strategy

What is Dead Simple?

  • Dead Simple Design – is an article by Pinterest’s founding designer Sahil Lavingia. He argues that everyone on your team plays a part in design, because everyone has a feel for design, some just more acute than others. What makes a great design:
    • Nest is a great innovation in Thermostats – it’s all about design and can intuitively revolutionize that ugly thing that hangs on your wall
  • Easy to understand – can people understand in a sentence? Workdaybuilt a cloud based accounting system when your business outgrew Quickbooks.  Of course it does much more than that and has a huge amount of complexity in the product, but it’s easy to understand.
    • Twitter was easy to understand – micro-blogging with 140 characters. You may not have thought you needed it, but it was easy to understand
  • Easy to use/implement– Google Wave was a product that was launched with great fanfare but needed a manual to understand and use. If you need a manual it’s not dead simple.
    • I love the stories about iPad users with kids in Africa that haven’t used a computer of any kind before picking up an iPad and using it without a problem – the same is true for my five-year old, she didn’t need any training.

A great idea doesn’t have to be Dead Simple to be a big idea. Oracle’s products aren’t dead simple, neither is Microsoft’s Exchange Server.

But if you’re building a business-to-consumer application you should start with the goal of dead simple. Just saying it doesn’t count.

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