By Flemming Wisler, Futureorientation June 2007-11-02
We are just some guys that have found a great idea, and we want to mull it over with you before we go further. It is a new way to…
Six men sit in the room, all in their late 20s or early 30s (except for this writer, but let that pass).
On the table are coffee, cola, beer, chips and bottled water. The room is illuminated by the glow of laptops and the light of a projection on the wall. The clothing style is a bit varied – though all were in sneakers and tee-shirts, and more or less unshaven. Some had tailored jackets on, others a military cap.
The discussion rolls back and forth. Mobile phones are used discreetly during the entire meeting, and occasional text messages are sent asking for information. Or information ticks in with a discreet hum from the other parts of the world where business is going on, even though it is Saturday night in Copenhagen.
There is intense surfing, and the image on the wall changes constantly as more windows are opened to places where everything can be researched, shown and demonstrated. Statistics, solutions, effects, design and brands of which only a few are aware, because they are only a day old or still in pre-beta.
The group synchronizes its experience
The individual’s knowledge is as deep as a free fall from the top of Google Earth, and the collected knowledge of the group is a body that paints one of the most interesting radar screens of business 2.0 to be found at that moment.
The image from the Web hangs in the air like a mosaic of soap bubbles that disappear one after another, as they pop and are replaced by new ones. No one takes notes, but there’s some scratching on the corner of some printer paper and the back of receipts or whatever is handy in the pocket. Two guys pace, thinking. One plays ball, balancing a balled-up newspaper on his toes. There is movement in the room, but the discussion is concentrated, and continues loudly on the same path, despite diversions to other angles and new examples.
The group is in flow in a wild ride on the Net, and has tuned into its thumping pulse. It resembles a 30th birthday party, or warm-up for a night on the town. But the buying power and the influence in the room surpasses what you would find in almost any Danish public company – with one or two exceptions.
The DNA of success is humility
The group is the sum of the right circumstances and many years intensive networking. The total self-confidence in the room is almost enough to blow it up, but it is held back by an unseen hand.
All know instinctively that the knowledge and the network that is represented can set off a chain reaction. A bomb of business. But everyone also knows this meeting is only a catalyst, an early step. A lot must fall in place before something new wins the world’s biggest marketplace.
Respect for the Net’s judgment and its millions of users has been the hardest lesson, one that everyone in the room received as a christening gift, when they entered Business 1.0 back in the end of the 1990s and around 2001. But they all know – and some have proven it with enormous incomes – that the right solution and the right distribution can lead right to the mother lode where business lies.
In principle, there’s nothing that can’t be done. The group’s network has critical mass, and all bases are covered. Experts are already either at the table or can be contacted. Now. Or on Monday. Investors are lined up.
The core of the discussion is neither capital or special knowledge. It is the idea. And here is the paradoxical tension between wildness and humility. The users out there are the entire basis for everything. Nothing can be launched, forced or sold if the people and their global network don’t give the thumbs up.
We aren’t talking about branding or market research. We aren’t talking about investments or business plans. We are talking rock-hard backend, free products, strategic recommendations and viral chain reactions.
What is special about this night is that the group finds an inner “feeling” for the Net’s spirit right now. An unspoken synchronous thinking in the direction that all forms of smart bullshit immediately ruin your credibility, because you are in a market with almost perfect knowledge. The Net’s transparency and social character make trust is the most valuable currency you can trade with; the Net’s collective punishment can shut your business down in a second.
Smarter than the market makes the market smarter
The key to acceptance and, through that, a market that is potentially the world’s biggest, lies in offering real added value in the form of intelligent, surprising, entertaining and free solutions that are in themselves building blocks for the continued strengthening of the Net.
The reward comes in the form of a reverse flow of ideas, spreading of solutions and the sale of highly precise offerings, either in the form of relevant “no nonsense” advertisements or cheap product upgrades. Make no mistake! The Net is super-commercial, but you must give something before you can get something back. On the other hand, you get very little from very many.
The group begins to stir. Most of the ideas that were on the table have been discussed up and down, and it’s time to move on. Some go out on the town: they aren’t so often in Copenhagen any more. Others cycle home. All know what each need to do next, and the network moves forward with different plans.
The idea moves on to phase three.
TRUE STORY: This account is of a meeting that took place in Copenhagen in January 2007, as part of the development and launch of a new user-driven Web solution. The group’s participants were from Denmark and abroad, and consisted of entrepreneurs, investors, managers and developers from some of the world’s most successful Web products.