Yesterday’s final shutdown of Quibi caused me to think about the fact that sometimes, success is not simply a matter of the will: deciding to push forward and your ability to do so consistently. Success also requires the right product at the right time.
Personally, when Quibi was originally announced earlier this year, I thought it would fail. The fact that it did was not surprising. Most of that was based on my opinion of the content, so I’ll admit that at the time I also considered my opinion to be a flawed and biased one. It’s ironic I turned out to be right.
The space they were coming into was already over-crowded and they did little to set themselves apart (in my opinion). Apps like Tik-Tok already have huge audiences, and you’re trying to compete in a finite space.
When you launch an idea, you need to make sure you have a value proposition that sets you apart from the crowd. That’s something I’ve had to both learn and teach in my time running businesses and marketing.
But your value proposition that sets you apart isn’t the only thing. You can have the world’s greatest app, but if your timing is bad, it will bomb.
Back in 1992, while still in college, I started selling for ProNet, an ISP with a multi-level marketing structure. Note the year. The Internet was still relatively unknown outside of tight circles of nerds and geeks. Part of ProNet’s pitch to subscribers was that local businesses offered coupons to subscribers. Your amount of savings by coupons would more than cover your monthly ISP subscription.
The real money in the venture was if you sold the idea to local businesses. The pitch to them was of course that you’d want to offer coupons and services to ProNet’s users because they were local consumers who would then be coming in as customers for you, Mr. Local Business owner.
The biggest challenge was timing. Some of the more savvy business owners I worked with asked, “So who has all these computers? I don’t know that many people who own a personal computer, let alone ‘go online.'” Others simply didn’t even see the future was “online.”
Today, while we use our handheld communicators to tell us what great local places there are to eat, shop, or entertain ourselves, it seems unbelievable that there was a time considered “too early” to pitch that kind of business. But ProNet never made it, primarily because their timing was off. 1992 was about 5 years too early.
The point is that you need to consider whether your idea not only has a great value proposition for users, but whether the timing is right. Wrong product at the wrong time and you’ll end up like Quibi.
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