Peter Rip, General Partner at Crosslink Capital had a moment of “transparency” when he discusses their “adventure” at Teqlo.
You can read the whole story here.
In short, they came across a technology that allowed people to create Mashups quickly (i.e. quickly connect together webservices in a string), and so with that they launched Teqlo — a service that lets you create mashups quickly!
Down the road, they’ve come to realize a certain fact — no one really wants to care about building mashups quickly. Even if they did care, people have a dozen different options for platforms for doing so, with some of the recent ones boldly claiming “No Code Required”.
What people need a lot of, though, is relevance — a solution that caters to their specific lives.
Long story short, Teqlo.com has spent a large amount of time now identifying (through Market Research and other such means) who it is that they’re actually creating value for, what their value chain is, how they are distributing their product, and most importantly what their product is anyway.
Now that they know, they are investing development resources to build the new product which was hinted to be a way of creating workflows that apply across web-services.
Great, although I really would have hoped a VC backed company would have done that earlier by hiring product strategy consultants who could’ve defined all of this for them for their previous iteration.
A person — a young aspiring CEO with money in the bank — asked me a few months ago in Lahore “You’re just going to make some recommendations — for what you’re charging me as a consultant, why shouldn’t I just hire 4 developers instead?”
Well, here’s your answer. I am sure if you add all of the costs of development, maintenance, platform infrastructure and platform support, a consultant would have cost a fraction of the cost Teqlo.com would now have to (somewhat) writeoff because of having to create a new direction for their product, and because of having to invest in development for the revised package.
Consultants would also be cheaper in some cases, in fact, than the market research and focus groups they conducted by themselves. Due to the position of consultants in between the market and companies, they already have data that they can use to craft a general direction for their work, and atleast save a few iterations of the market research.
Due to this lower cost then, the consultant would have saved Teqlo a lot of money from their investment into a business product — not just a fancy way of creating mashups.
I see one thing over and over again when meeting entrepreneurs, CEOs or through the advisory stuff I do at the TechDirt Insight Community — people keep thinking that technology is the product.
Remember, technology is only an excuse for you to build a product. No I’m not referring to Seth Godin’s saying that “Technology gives you a shot at marketing” — that isn’t entirely accurate either. Let’s write out what I mean in big bold letters shall we?
Technology gives you an excuse to identify and create a new business product where one could not have existed before. Without a business product, there is nothing for marketing to promote.
Oh, and if I introduce myself to you as a product design consultant, please dont think I mean the technical design and architecture of your code. Your code is just the excuse, have you designed your product yet?