"We're a platform." Said the third platform founder I spoke with that day. Try it. Ask any new internet entrepreneur what their business is and 4 out of 5 will tell you they are a platform.
Try to count the number of platforms you have an account with. Take the number of platforms that you subscribed with that asked you to contribute and you never took anything out of it. Think about how tiring it is to receive a request to join another platform. It is a vague word that magically everyone seems to understand, but lacks content.
And that last thing is usually what turns out to be the fate of platforms, too.
However, most crowd-enabled initiatives still choose to be a platform. They choose the platform as a framework for a grand vision of being the focal point of attention to many users that contribute to a movement of large scale. I think this ambition is a killing factor to crowdsourcing initiatives.
So… ambition is bad?
Vision and ambition are regarded as desirable in starting a new business. Too grand a vision will, however, invite any startup founder to launch a product far beyond anything that is easily adoptable by a large number of users. That is why many excellent initiatives find themselves fighting for the existence of their spin-off business models, at the cost of focus on the central business model.
But what would any of those struggling concepts have been like had they kept their product to a single model, not requiring early adopters to make an extensive subscription and find their way in a platform overloaded with functionality but without content.
I started to think that ambition and vision might be more of a threat over a virtue for many crowd-initiatives. The internet, and the possibilities of IT & mobile technology enable so many things, that it calls for combining everything that is possible. And, this is just what makes a new concept so hard to understand and adopt to potential users.
The trick is not to make another platform, but to create the single added value that in time makes people desire it had been a “platform” after all, and only then build a platform around it. Focus first.
How many of us have started designing and programming a plethora of features that appeared to remain unused? Instead, how many have started using a very basic form of the central added value component, not requesting or forcing users to first use all the other features that have been thought of.
Let’s stop launching platforms, let’s stop being the focal point for all. Start being a modest initiative that –even though it is totally not equipped for power usage- becomes a user-magnet for people that use it for a single small value addition. And then we’ll see about the platform.
How about you? Do you have an idea for a platform? Let us know in the comments.