We are seeing a steady steam of Digital startups (at least, they are intended to start up, not just stall on the starting blocks) which are depressingly displaying the same failings:
Build it and they will come. Sitting closeted away for months building some kind of marginal functionality is not market research, it’s Digital onanism.
Big marketplaces, guaranteed success. Because Travel and Music and Social Media and Discounting are huge in no way means that an unconvincing or me-too offering has a hope of hell of success.
A Web of conceit. No, it’s not just a website editor, it’s a WEB PLATFORM TECHNOLOGY. There are lots of people attempting a late stage landgrab in the SME website market, claiming that the kind of technologies that we now take for granted somehow constitute a paradigm shift, only deliverable by themselves. Good luck to them (they’ll need it.)
Features but no product. Allow me to let you into a secret: there’s really no such “thing” as Digital. “Digital” is simply a term for the marketing froth at the leading edge of technology which delivers commercial functionality. And thus, whilst clever people will always fiddle and innovate, the current breadth of the Digital space and the pace of technology change means that there is an unusually large amount of fiddling and innovating going on. And it’s exciting – but a a lot of the fashionable fiddlers and innovators overlook a permanent law: a cute feature does not of itself a commercial product make.
Total Digibollix. A bit of QR coding, a patter around mobile marketing and a pick ‘n’mix of whatever Digital sizzology you care to imagine. Throw some apps in for good measure and, hey, now we’re Digitalising on diesel!
There is masses of stuff from the above categories currently around. A lot of it is spilling out of the commercial intelligence-free zones that form the vast mass of quango incubators and from related “enterprise” programmes. Just as there is most certainly not a viable enterprise in everyone, there is most definitely not a Digital winner fermenting at every ergonomically designed work station in every wackily painted and wackily named Digital hubspace.
It’s time for more reality behind the virtual.
- A framework of success traits of digital startups.
- Malcolm Evans is one of the UK's leading business funding specialists.