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Starting Social vs. Retrofitting Social

January 26, 2010


One of the fun things about life in startup land is when a new wave of technology shows up such that startups who “get it” have an unfair advantage against incumbents who don’t.

Just like the first wave of Internet winners had this unfair advantage against the mainstream media companies who tried, unsuccessfully, to launch major web destinations, I would argue that the Social Web is a similar seachange on the net which will give rise to a slew of startups that will disrupt incumbents across a number of online verticals. Clearly we are already seeing it in with games, but, mark my word, it is coming fast in a number of different areas, both consumer and enterprise.

Whether it be games, dating, jobs, music, travel, consumer electronics, education, you name it, I am a big believer that companies that are built from scratch to leverage the social web will have an unfair advantage against legacy incumbents trying to retrofit social. I don’t think that works.

Game on!


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  1. January 26, 2010

    We’re trying to use social media and the content created from it to change the way products are sold in the travel market.

  2. January 26, 2010

    While retrofitting may be far more challenging than building social *into your product* for the incumbents, it is not impossible if there’s a desire to leverage that channel and an understanding of the nature of its strengths and weaknesses. What becomes even more challenging for existing companies (both young and old) is incorporating that social seachange into the way they run and plan their entire spectrum of business operations — not just the product.

    Actually harnessing the power of social and empowering the *company* to use it to drive more and better relationships with their customer base, potential new customers and the Web as a whole will also help determine who the winners and losers are from this next wave.


  3. January 30, 2010

    I agree, Mike. I’ve been fascinated with the opportunities of applying social web best-practices to business settings as a way to disrupt the status quo offer by the mega-vendors.

    OmniStrat is taking this opportunity one step farther by incorporating advances in the science of human motivation, decision theory and risk mitigation, putting a social wrapper around it and applying it to strategy management.

    As a Dogpatch Labs – Cambridge entrepreneur I have been using old-school, face-to-face social to evolve my vision with fellow residents. My now crowd-sourced solution has taken on a vision that will be formidable to stop. What an amazing way to launch a disruptive company.

    Thanks for creating Dogpatch Labs. Much karma will come your way.

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