The Boolean Life
Things are either True or False. Or not.
Disruptions: Balancing Nerdy and The Suit
By Olibe.nu


In your quest to take over the world or disrupt a little part of it, there is a possibility you (or your team) will be made up of a kind of Pinky and the Brain combination: the Nerd (techie, geek) and the Suit (administrator, manager, money man). Here are a few tips to make things move a little bit more smoothly.

1. Understanding Mummy economics. (Darbur toothpaste isn't better than CloseUp just because it is bitter).

What has this got to do with disruption? Bear with me. Recall those who think their app, site or feature is the bomb because they wrote it in scala, haskell, erlang, brainfuck (yes, it does exist) or some other exotic ink? They are usually people suffering from the hello world disease.

Forget all that herbal hype. Who told you Dabur was better? Your mummy? Now that you are grown, have you ever wondered why mummy said that? Have you ever stopped to think that it was because you were using too much of the sweet minty CloseUp (even sucking it from the tube), so much so that a tube which had formerly lasted 3 weeks had to be replaced in 2? That a bitter Dabur lasted a month because you finally heeded the instruction and put a pea-sized amount on your brush?

I guess all that shrewd mummy economics was beyond you. Do not make the mistake again and think that because Nairaland was written in python and looks circa 1990, you can implement the same thing but with all the bells, whistles, ruby and rails without finding out what the 1 million plus people really want more out of Nairaland.

You will end up in the same boat as that Google engineer crying right now in front of a comparison of G and Facebook user stats.
'But, but, but... I used go! Which is way, way better than php!'.

Examples: Diaspora*, the Facebook killer.

Lesson: Learn the real reason why your users switched toothpastes.

2. Understanding the Average user. (Wake up and smell the Lipton! It's got milk and sugar!)
Do you drink coffee? Black? Maybe. Do you take Lipton tea? Know anyone who doesn't add milk or sugar to it? Ever thought for a second such a person was NORMAL? I think not. But does Lipton see that too?

Have you seen their ads? A NORMAL person puts a tea bag into a cup, pours hot water and, sips it, just like that. Why would I do that? Why would a normal person do that? They do not even make an argument about it being good for your health like those aloe products. Hell, even Bournvita writes on their cans to add sugar and milk if required. Of course no one expects them to pay big bucks for advertising and then give a free referral to Peak milk, Cowbell or Dangote sugar so we forgive them. On the other hand, you the disruptor will have no such luxury.

Are you a Nigerian in the UK? No? Ok, so you live in Lagos or Abuja? Ok, Lagos then. Do you use the CCHub? Very good internet, yes? Tested your app there? Nice. Final question. How many Nigerians have that kind of connection? Will your Udacity clone help out students frustrated by ASUU with all those videos they can't stream? Don't even bother with implementing that cool javascript, that blur effect that gives your site pizzazz is going to take 5mb out of someone's hard earned 10mb plan!

I will concede that the internet experience has become better but take your head out of the clouds (and perhaps cloud computing too). Except you want to target a demographic the same percentage as those who take their Lipton tea black. Then that won't be disruption but catering to a niche market.

Examples: TiketmobileHotels.ng and Facebook.

Lesson: You don't know what average is until you ask.

One thing about disruptions is that they do the unexpected. Perhaps your Dabur toothpaste is really better than CloseUp just because it is bitter. Or your Lipton tea sells without milk or sugar. Until proven though, be ready to admit there's a chance your target audience really wants a faster horse and not a motor car. But what do I know? Keep doing the same thing we do every night, try to take over the world!