Why Being Lazy Might Be the Secret to a Successful Tech Startup
Editor’s Note: In the new podcast Masters of Scale, LinkedIn co-founder and Greylock partner Reid Hoffman explores his philosophy on how to scale a business -- and at Entrepreneur.com, entrepreneurs are responding with their own ideas and experiences on our hub. This week, we’re discussing Hoffman’s theory: to succeed, entrepreneurs need a good idea, good timing, money and luck. But more than that -- they need grit. Listen to this week's episode here.
With all of the talk of disruption, it’s easy to believe that reinventing the wheel is the only way to have a successful tech startup. There’s a lot of pressure to innovate and create, but that’s not the only way to make a truly great business that has staying power. In fact, being “lazy” and copying a model that’s already working is a great way to get started.
When we started our bot company, Chattypeople, we could have created an independent app to enable people to chat with brands or individuals. But, the model is already out there: Facebook has already built a working ecosystem and platform with Facebook Messenger. Chattypeople is built on top of that chatbot system, working on top of another platform. We’ve been incredibly successful because there is a need for bots, and a ton of perks that we’ve benefitted from in piggybacking on an already successful system.
There are many innovative and incredible partners and systems out there already that would also benefit from combining forces with you. So, don’t worry about being slightly lazy. In fact, here are some great reasons why a little bit of laziness (combined with some creativity and determination) can actually help your business, rather than hurt it:
1. The base is already built.
You have a great advantage if you can identify a killer platform that would combine easily with what you’d like to do. Why create something extravagant and time-consuming when another person has already built and developed many of the features that you otherwise would have to build yourself? Partnering with those who could benefit your company, as well as building on pre-existing platforms, is a great way to turn a profit, without having to reinvent the wheel.
2. Users come with the partnership.
Whether you are combining forces with another small company, or building on top of a large, popular platform, you’re going to gain users that you didn’t have. There’s a clear benefit to getting on board with a platform that already has a large user base and a number of customers already using the platform, and are used to using that system or platform. Think of the savings in time and energy you’ll gain from minimizing that initial marketing push!
3. Larger platforms are marketing for you.
Speaking of marketing: You’re saving yourself a lot of time and energy building your product on a larger platform as that platform is likely promoting and marketing its product with more dollars than you could ever throw at it. For example, Facebook is marketing and promoting Messenger bots, so that’s helping to drive the market, interest and customer conversion.
4. You’re closer to diversifying.
The potential downside to building on the back of one platform is what if that platform decides to no longer offer that feature, which could jeopardize the whole future of your company. But, having built your product once, you’ll be able to diversify it for other platforms and systems quite easily. At ChattyPeople, we’re working against that by building a version of ChattyPeople for Slack, Skype, Viber and Telegram, which all have messenger bot platforms and the possibility of integrating bots. When you work to integrate your product to work alongside all those platforms, you mitigate risk.
Being lazy isn’t always a character flaw. In fact, being lazy can help you build an unstoppable business that is already set up for success from the get go. So be lazy -- and then be driven, excited and innovative with the product that you’ve built.