Chris Rock - a true prototyper
Here’s a short and light Harvard Business post: Innovate Like Chris Rock.
As an experimental innovator, Chris “conducts thousands of small experiments”. He tries out new material at a small club in New Jersey. Some jokes fall flat, some sort of work, a few get a good laugh.
It’s just hard to predict where the laughs will come from. And that’s the whole point. The desired outcome is a laugh. It doesn’t really matter what works. Try them out to see what sparks - there’s just not that much invested in each one yet.
Have a look at how very early-stage consumer Internet product companies get funded these days. Like comedy, it’s just too hard to predict what will work so investors make “small investments” into many potential desired outcomes - whatever they may be. There are more money rounds, but much smaller and only if progress is demonstrated at each step. To investors it’s a risk distribution game. To the entrepreneurs, I don’t think much has changed - they may operate on the cloud to keep costs low, but I see them still putting their time and hearts into it.
ONE BIG DIFFERENCE - CHRIS ROCK EXPERIMENTS WITH PAYING CUSTOMERS
Chris Rock pitches his material to people who pay to have a laugh, and he gets rewarded with early, honest feedback. He finds out right away from his paying customers what works, what can work, and what will never work. True prototyping.
Surprisingly, the challenge for some consumer Internet product companies is that at the very early stage they don’t yet know who they will be collecting the money from: consumers , integrators, advertisers, etc.
For companies who do have a clear pricing/monetization plan, the remaining challenge is finding authentic, potentially paying customers to validate the market before they have committed too much. As per this incremental funding model, the investors won’t care much in the first few rounds. That very early go/no go decision burden has been shifted to the entrepreneurs.
How will they get early, honest feedback? It’s a problem.
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Photo credit stijnbokhove - thanks!