Oct 3, 2009

Don't Get High On Your Own Supply

"Lesson number two: don't get high on your own supply" -- Elvira Hancock

At betaworks we try to (over) simplify some key principles (no business development, for example) to operate our businesses, and look for inspiration for those ideas in disparate pockets.

One of our key learnings is that while it's really fun to live inside the startup bubble whereby your application is filling a huge problem and therefore is going to change the world, it's even more important to remember what happened to Tony Montana in Scarface when he didn't listen to the sage advice of his mentor Frank Lopez (Robert Loggia) and wife Elvira (Michelle Pfeiffer) - don't get high on your supply, i.e., don't believe your own bullshit; don't live in your own bubble; if you are going to use your own product do it as a user not as a supplier.

Innovation is happening at such a fast pace that if you can't step outside your own world you will not see it clearly. Stepping outside your own world can mean don't believe what other people say or write about your service - good or bad - it is the use case that matters, not the chatter. Experience your product as a user would - not as an insider. Don't believe that if you disappeared tomorrow anyone would care. Question the key assumptions you think are vital to your perceived success.

Most importantly, also don't forget Lopez's first rule, the corollary to the first:

Never underestimate... the other guy's greed

Your competition might be hungrier than you are, particularly if you are high on your own supply.

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