I was listening to a podcast recently where one of the hosts was lamenting the fact that they didn’t invent any of the great new apps that seem somewhat obvious to us now, like Uber and Slack. They wished they could go back in time about 10 years and fix that, but “it’s too late now”.
For those apps, he’s absolutely right, but most people will be able to say the same thing 10 years from now. The next 10 years will bring amazing new technologies and ideas, and that’s all still in front of us.
Tech giants rule
Even with that in mind, it can be tough when you look at the current landscape being mostly dominated by a few large companies (Google, Apple, Amazon, etc).
Can you build a phone next year to compete with the iPhone? Probably not.
Can you create a new search engine to topple Google? Unlikely.
Despite that, opportunities abound.
Two fun examples of small, unique projects come to mind.
TogetherLetters is a way to connect a small group of people with weekly email updates. As social media fragments into different platforms, everyone (at least for now) has email. This is a creative way to use that to bring people together.
Nat is a unique tool that scans your email and determines who you frequently contact but have not talked to in a while, and encourages you to reconnect. It’s somewhat like Contactually used to be, but is much more focused on just helping you reconnect and is a great little site.
Both of these products are being built by creative people in their spare time, with the hopes of perhaps building them into big services some day.
Will they survive?
There’s a pretty decent chance that if you read this post in a few years, both of them will be closed up and the founders moved on — but maybe not. Almost every major product used today came from simple, humble beginnings.
Google was just a research project on how to better organize websites.
Slack was a chat feature inside of a game. The game failed, but Slack thrived.
Facebook was one of about 10 different projects that Mark Zuckerberg was messing around with at college.
You can lament that you didn’t cash in with Slack and their $28B acquisition or some other recent multi-million dollar success, but it’s never too late and it’s never been easier to give it a try.
If you have an idea, go for it and see what sticks, and people may wish they had been you 10 years ago.