Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Right Time and The Right Place

I was reading this Mashable article today, Top of the Flops: 10 Tech Products Ahead of Their Time, and found it fascinating how many products on the market today had promising predecessors that were just not ready for prime time.

It reminded me of a former prospective client I met several years ago.

In 2004, I was working at a local public relations firm in Denver and we had a new business prospect in our office. He was a successful entrepreneur who had this idea to make a mini computer – one that is small, lightweight and portable. He actually had a prototype that he showed us which measured about 6 inches x 10 inches in size.

Little did I know at the time that I was holding a piece of the future in my hands. The problem was that the market wasn’t ready for a product like this. 

Now remember this was before the explosion of smart phones and tablets and all of the wonderful applications that comes with them. You couldn’t connect to the Internet or download mobile applications on this mini computer. It was essentially an alternative to a laptop but with a lot less functionality.

So, my thought was, would I really buy one of these? Would anyone? What would be the purpose? I remember thinking that it was a cool product but it seemed like a solution waiting for a problem.  We didn’t end up taking them on as a client, but this was definitely a product ahead of its time.

Fast forward seven years and iPads, and a variety of other tablets, are flying off the shelves. The world has changed so much and we are now a more mobile society. We’ve gotten used to having information at our fingertips anytime, anyplace and the technology has evolved to the point that makes this all possible.

Having worked with so many brilliant entrepreneurs in my career, I’ve learned that the best ones are risk takers, those with visions way beyond most of our own short-sighted comprehension.  The man who came into our office that day knew his mini computer was the wave of the future, it just took the market a few years to catch up.