I figure it’s my turn to take a crack at with some quick, random thoughts on the subject.
First, let me share some of my thoughts on what factors (on their own) do NOT make a project successful:
1. The core idea of the project doesn’t really seem to be that big of a deciding factor. Sure ‘good’ or 'unique’ ideas are going to have a better chance, but really it’s rare that a project becomes a success just because it’s a unique or really good idea. For example, the idea of google was nothing new. Search had been around forever and lots of other players were already doing it.
2. The technology doesn’t have to better. Again, it won’t hurt to have better or superior technology but it rarely will make the true difference on if a project is successful (in the market that is). I will say however, the proper use of technology at the start will help to keep the company from a faster crash-and-burn IF it does catch on with the general public (as you grow, if you plan right, you’ll have the resources to improve your technology to handle your scale).
So what do I think is the real key?
To me, it’s all about perception.
You have to first get (the right) people to notice the project/idea, and then you have to get them to fall in love with it. That is they have to actually use it, and get hooked on it. Once you do that, your project will explode.
Here’s the real rub though and why it’s really so hard to hit on a 'good project’ – it’s hard to invoke the right emotions in people. I say 'right’ emotions because it’s easy to annoy or frustrate people with a project, but trust me that’s no way to become a success.
Traditionally it costs money - LOTS of money - to get people to notice your project. The internet has not really changed that for the average person. Sure you can get lucky if you have some active and/or influential friends, but for the most part if you’re not already in a successful business circle in the 'real’ world, you’re probably not going to be in one 'online’ either.
There are millions of books, blog posts, and theories about how to market your project or idea. All of which really just shows you that it’s tough tough business getting noticed - no matter who your are or what your project is.
Assuming you do get noticed, even for just a second, the next challenge is almost as tough – making them fall in love with YOUR project. Almost always, to any project you present, people are going to have a first reaction of “so what” or “xyz already does that. better. ”
Again there are gobs of books, blog posts, research papers, etc. on how to get people to fall in love with your ideas/project. And again, it all just goes to show that really it’s a black-magic that’s tough tough to apply.
So after this rambling, what’s my point? Basically that 'getting noticed’ and 'making people fall in love with your project’ are the true reasons a project succeeds or fails. And doing both is tough as hell - so you better get started on them right now!
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Kevin has a day job as CTO of Veritonic and is spending nights & weekends hacking on Share Game Tape. You can also check out some of his open source code on GitHub or connect with him on Twitter @falicon or via email at kevin at falicon.com.
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