Order of Magnitude Better

People are fascinated with their own ideas. You'll often talk to people who don't want to freely discuss their ideas. Not discussing your ideas with other's is a bad idea.

If your idea is breakthrough, you won't have to worry about other's stealing it. It will seem insane to people you share it with. Great ideas are black swans.

One common idea is building a better mouse trap. Common startup sense states a better mouse trap is a bad idea. Ben Horowitz addressed these points when he keynoted Digital-Life-Design Conference.

The key thing is the idea has to be a breakthrough. When you are talking about technology it means literally a much better way of doing things. To make money it really has to be an order of magnitude better. The problem with breakthroughs is they look insane. If it didn't seem crazy, it wouldn't be a breakthrough because everybody else would already have solved that problem.

In order for a new technology to displace the current incumbent it needs to be an order of magnitude better. Facebook and Google displaced incumbents by building better mouse traps.

For those of you who aren't math inclined, An order-of-magnitude means 10 times better. The customer, not you, has to benefit 10 times more from your product than the current inefficient solution.

Bank Simple

Simple is trying to displace the banking industry by focusing on the interface. Simple isn't a bank, but a front-end. Banks traditionally have a hard time building front-end interfaces.

Simple is not a bank. Simple replaces your bank with everything you need to spend smarter and save more. Your funds live in FDIC-insured accounts with our partner bank, The Bancorp Bank, and we provide everything else. We offer beautifully-designed web interface and iPhone and Android apps, no surprise fees, and real customer service. We take care of you, the bank takes care of your money, and jointly, we've designed a better financial experience.

I've used Simple for 6 months. Their web interface is beautiful, their iPhone app is amazing, and little features - auto-categorizing and showing my purchases on a map - are great. But, I don't know if it's an order of magnitude greater.

I still don't use them as my regular bank. I haven't transferred my current funds and my future funds - through direct deposit - to them. Order-of-magnitude is the reason the banking industry is hard to displace.

Moving to another banking solution is a pain. For a new solution to displace an incumbent the new solution has to be extraordinary.

I believe in Simple and think they will accomplish what they've set out to do, it will just take time. I'm just using Simple as an example of Order of Magnitude better.

Start sharing your ideas with others and get feedback. For those of you already sharing your ideas: If people aren't telling you you're idea is crazy then it's not big enough.

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Written: February 14, 2013